Businesses and organisations within our creative, cultural and heritage sectors have been among the worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. To support them, the Government announced a world-leading £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund last year, which was topped up by a further £300 million in the Budget last month. The fund is administered by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and provides a mixture of grants and loans. So far more than £800 million of grants have been allocated to 3,800 arts, culture and heritage-related businesses, organisations and charities in England, helping to support at least 75,000 jobs.
Over 70% of the revenue grants awarded have been outside of London, reflecting the Government’s mission to level up funding and investment across the country. I have pushed hard for our fair share and last week seven organisations in our Central Devon constituency learned that their applications to the fund had been successful, totalling more than £785,000.
The largest beneficiary, receiving more than half the funding allocated within Central Devon, will be the South Devon Railway in Buckfastleigh. This is one of the most important attractions in our constituency, bringing much needed tourism revenue to our part of Devon every year. I have visited the railway on several occasions to support various initiatives and have fond memories of taking my daughters on the Santa Trains when they were younger. The railway is re-opening in stages, with the main site due to open at the time this article goes to print (with free entry until 16th April). However trains are not due to start steaming down the line again until 17th May.
Other beneficiaries include the MED Theatre in Moretonhampstead (a developmental community theatre organisation and charity which primarily works with people in remote rural areas) and WREN Music in Okehampton (one of England’s leading community folk arts organisations). Having visited both in the past to meet with volunteers and learn more about the work they do, I know how valued they are to their communities. Craft Festival, which will take place in Bovey Tracey from 10th to 12th September, has also been allocated funding. This is an amazing event and supports creative businesses, performers, teachers and musicians.
The remaining grants were awarded to businesses based in Ilsington, Dunchideock and Longdown, which provide equipment and/or technical support for events. With gigs, music festivals, and corporate events having not been possible for some time, these businesses have found it really tough over the past year. I am very pleased their applications to the Culture Recovery Fund have been successful and hope that the businesses find themselves busy again as soon as possible.
If you are involved with a business, organisation or charity within the creative, cultural and heritage sectors and want more information about applying to the Culture Recovery Fund please visit www.artscouncil.org.uk/CRFgrants. Twitter users can also follow the hashtags #CultureRecoveryFund and #HereForCulture.