£5.7m of emergency funding awarded to arts organisations in South West London as challenging Christmas period expected

£5,706,954 of emergency funding has been awarded to 47 organisations across South West London with the third round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

The Culture Recovery Fund was first established in November 2020 to provide support to culturally significant organisations across disciplines such as dance, music, literature and theatre which have been impacted by Covid-19.

Announced on 19 November, the Continuity Support round of funding aims to offer further financial assistance to previous recipients so that they can remain viable into the new year.

Area Director for London at Arts Council England, Tonya Nelson, said she is pleased to support organisations that make up the capital’s cultural and creative scene through the Culture Recovery Fund.

She added: “Across the city, we’ve already seen how funding has helped our theatres, music venues and other cultural organisations survive through the pandemic.  

“Further investment will support these much-loved organisations as they adjust to this new landscape and continue to deliver incredible cultural experiences both on an international stage and to our local communities – a balance that makes London so special.”

Leading Awardees for Continuity Support Funding in South West London

Organisations which received significant funding include the Young Vic, an award-wining theatre company in Lambeth, Rambert, a prominent touring contemporary dance company, and the Richmond-based Orange Tree Theatre, which has averaged 65,000 annual visitors over the last 5 years. 

The Orange Tree Theatre told the SWL that the Continuity Support grant of £230,314 represents around 40% of its income for 1 Nov 21 – 31 Jan 22, and is equivalent to about 13% of its usual annual turnover.

Theatres received 46.5% of funding in South West London, and are particularly struggling over the Christmas period as a result of falling ticket sales.

According to the Audience Agency, whilst unlike last year Christmas venues can stage performances without restrictions on capacity, in the worst case sales could be down as much as 30-40%.

This would cause serious problems for many companies as income from the festive period is often a significant proportion of annual revenues.

Percentage of Continuity Support Funding going to each discipline in South West London

Development and Communications Director at Orange Tree Theatre, Alex Jones, said: “The pandemic is an ongoing situation and something that we’re seeing very heavily reflected in sales and demand at the moment.

“The Christmas production does tend to be busiest show of the year and so for that to be at risk has impact across the whole year of operations.”

She added that as well as the funding helping the Orange Tree Theatre to survive through this uncertain period, it also ensured that they can continue to operate and create the quality productions for which it is renowned.

To be awarded further funding, organisations had to satisfy a number of criteria.

For one, organisations had to show that they are at risk of no longer trading viably by 31 March 2022.

They also had to demonstrate the quality of their work and the contribution the organisations makes on a local and/or international level.

Jones said “The Orange Tree Theatre have a strong history of producing national level work, tour regularly and are very much rooted in the community.”

She noted how they work with 10,000 people in the community each year through their programmes, which include weekly classes for all ages.

However, the Arts Council acknowledged that despite the Culture Recovery Fund marking an unprecedented investment from the government, given the scale of the crisis, it will still not be able to support everyone. 

A spokesman for Arts Council England stated: “We know that this means some organisations will be disappointed with the decision they have received, but we are confident we have scrutinised all organisations against the strict criteria set for this fund by the government.”

The financial difficulties facing arts organisations in South West London are also expected to continue beyond the 3-6 month grants given, Jones stating that the long term situation remains unclear.

“We don’t know what the future holds. At the moment, we are expecting that ticket sales will be impacted through towards summer next year.

However, we are very hopeful that the situation will continue to improve” she said.

Feature Image Credit: Orange Tree Theatre


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