British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a £1.57 billion ($1.96 billion) stimulus package for the arts industry in the U.K. on Sunday. This economic relief includes funding for museums, theaters, live music venues, and more cultural institutions as Britain’s economic shutdown continues due to COVID-19.
The announcement comes after months of lobbying from a coalition of venues banded together as the Music Venues Trust and its #SaveOurVenues campaign. Additionally, this past week saw the emergence of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, which received public support from The Rolling Stones, Sir Paul McCartney, Radiohead, Coldplay, as well as over 1,500 other artists.
The expansive stimulus package reportedly features £270 million in loans as well as £880 million in grants which businesses won’t need to pay back. The relief money, which Johnson called the HM Treasury’s “Biggest-ever one-off investment in U.K. culture,” includes a £1.15 billion central fund for cultural organizations in England. An additional £100 million will go to targeted support of national cultural institutions in England and English Heritage. Another £120 million in investments will go toward restarting construction at cultural sites. Lastly, £97 million will go to Scotland, £59 million to Wales, and £33 million for Northern Ireland.
“From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerizing exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country,” Johnson said. “This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”
Even as the United States sees a gradual reopening of music venues, those across the pond are still planning on an entertainment shutdown stretching into 2021. Britain’s relief package is meant to subside cultural institutions until April 2021.
“Our world-renowned galleries, museums, heritage sites, music venues and independent cinemas are not only critical to keeping our economy thriving, employing more than 700,000 people, they’re the lifeblood of British culture,” Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said. “That’s why we’re giving them the vital cash they need to safeguard their survival, helping to protect jobs and ensuring that they can continue to provide the sights and sounds that Britain is famous for.”
Back in March during the initial economic shutdown, Sunak announced that over £400 billion in economic relief would be made available to small businesses throughout the United Kingdom. In that announcement, Sunak stated that if that initial stimulus package wasn’t enough that the government would provide more, “I said whatever it takes, and I meant it.”
[H/T Music Business Worldwide]