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UK arts and culture to gain £400m boost

UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak is to pledge more than £400m to the struggling arts and cultural sectors in the upcoming Budget tomorrow (Wednesday).

The funding pledge – unveiled by Treasury officials on Monday evening – will add a further £300m to the Culture Recovery Fund, taking the total to £1.87bn and contributing to the largest ever one-off investment in UK culture. The fund was launched in July 2020 to support theatres, galleries and music venues to survive through the COVID-19 shutdown of live events.

In addition, £90m will be granted to national museums and cultural bodies in England, with a further £18.8m to go towards community cultural projects.

Some £77m is expected to be granted to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland for disbursing to local cultural groups.

In a pre-Budget statement, Sunak said: “Throughout the crisis we have done everything we can to support our world-renowned arts and cultural industries, and it’s only right that we continue to build on our historic package of support for the sector.

“This industry is a significant driver of economic activity, employing more than 700,000 people in jobs across the UK, and I am committed to ensuring the arts are equipped to captivate audiences in the months and years to come.”

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin welcomed the boost as a “lifeline” for creative industries, but said an insurance scheme was “vital” for the return of live events.

Njoku-Goodwin, who heads the umbrella organisation representing the commercial music industry in the UK, said: “Extending the CRF was a key element of our three-point plan to back British music and deliver a fantastic summer of live music.

“So, the Chancellor deserves credit for listening to the music industry about continuing support until we can get back on our feet. These badly needed funds come at a crucial time and will be the difference between survival and going to the wall for many organisations.

“The music industry has the potential to play a key role not just in our country’s social revival post-pandemic, but in our economic recovery too. We will continue to work with the Government towards achieving this – and a Government-backed insurance scheme is vital in making that happen.”

Based on the UK’s current roadmap to reopening, the earliest that arts venues such as theatres and cinemas can reopen is May 17.

In addition to the support for the arts in the budget, the Chancellor is also expected to announce a £300m sports package, as audiences for live games are gradually allowed back into stadiums over the summer.