Arts flagships in £165m loan package

Major cultural institutions including the National Theatre, the Southbank Centre, The Royal Opera House, English National Opera and the Royal Shakespeare Company are to receive loans worth £165m from the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to get them fully operational by April.

They are among 11 to be offered loans for up to 20 years to be sure they can be repayable, and it brings the total so far disbursed from the fund past £1bn, with the last £400m in grants for "organisations at imminent risk of collapse" also being announced.

Rufus Norris and Lisa Burger of the National, which is to receive £19.7m, said: “It is a vital lifeline that will form part of our recovery, helping to ensure that the National Theatre will be here for culture and here for the nation, now and in the future. While the challenges of this pandemic are not over, we can now begin to rebuild the NT with a renewed commitment to make world-class theatre for everyone that celebrates the diversity of our nation. We will widen digital access, offer opportunities for every child in the country to experience theatre, help develop the next generation of talent, and change lives through participation. We stand ready to play our part in supporting the UK’s economic and emotional recovery from the effects of Covid-19”. The illustration here is of the National’s pantomime prediction of Dick Whittington for this Christmas.

The RSC will have a loan of £19,400,000 to enable e the company to open full productions next spring; the Royal Albert Hall, which warned in the summer that it might have to close without help, will have £20,740,000; English National Opera is being loaned £8.5m to produce live performances; The Royal Opera House is being offered £21,700,000; and the Southbank Centre, which reported an income loss of £25m for this year, has a loan of almost £11m.

Nicholas Hytner, whose London Theatre Company is being offered £5,000,000 and runs the Bridge Theatre, said: “We're determined to do all we can to generate employment for the freelance community and joy for audiences. People are going to need ever more the stimulation of live performance and we're determined to make our contribution as energetically as we can".

Also in the list for loans are the Historic Royal Palaces, the London Theatre Company, Mark Goucher Ltd, Michael Harrison Entertainment and the Production Park in Wakefield.

Heading the list of those receiving grants is The Factory in Manchester, expected to open in 2023, which is to get £21m in capital investment from the fund, and others include Turner Contemporary in Margate (£264,000 to transform its visitor facilities); Nottingham’s Broadway (£144,000 to refurbish visitor spaces); and Alexandra Palace (£3m).

“The £1 billion invested so far through the Culture Recovery Fund has protected tens of thousands of jobs at cultural organisations across the UK, with more support still to come through a second round of applications” said Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary. “Today we’re extending a huge helping hand to the crown jewels of UK culture - so that they can continue to inspire future generations all around the world.” 


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