What the £1.57 billion investment means for the creative industry

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July 28, 2020

Words by Laura Taylor

On the 5th July, an unprecedented ‘rescue package’ was announced by the Government, designed to specifically target the country’s cultural and heritage organisations. The package is one of the largest investments in culture in Europe and it will give museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues across the UK access to a sizeable pot of money, which will be segmented into emergency grants and loans.

The support package comes as part of the Government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and the impact this is set to have on the creative industry for the foreseeable future. It is the largest one-off investment to ever be injected into UK culture and aims to help keep businesses and organisations afloat as venues remain closed and events continue to be cancelled on account of the pandemic.

Since the Coronavirus crisis began, the Government has unlocked a range of relief packages, including its Bounce Back Loans and business rate holidays to provide a financial crutch for the country’s vulnerable economy. There was also the announcement of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme earlier this year for furloughed staff. But the creative ecosystem works differently to the rest of the economy in many ways, so the new £1.57 billion rescue package, however, is by far the most promising news for our cultural and heritages sectors yet.

How will the £1.57 billion investment be segmented?

So far, what we know is that the investment pot will include:

  • £1.15 billion worth of support for cultural organisations in England delivered through a combination of grants and loans. This will be comprised of £270 million of repayable finance and £880 million worth of grants.
  • £100 million of specifically targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the Heritage Trust.
  • £120 million worth of capital investment to help restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which were forced to be paused as a result of the pandemic.
  • An additional £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33 million), Scotland (£97 million) and Wales (£59 million).

What will the Government’s ‘rescue package’ be used for?

The investment pot will be being spent on fulfilling a variety of different strategies, each designed to support the culture and heritage sectors. As we mentioned above, funds will be allocated to encourage the recommencement of construction work on cultural and heritage sites which was paused due to COVID restrictions. It will also be pumped into restarting other paused projects and helping supporting the employment of those working within the industries, including freelancers.

Any repayable finance that is granted will be done so with “generous terms” that are designed to be affordable and accessible to the country’s cultural institutions. During the announcement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson dubbed the cultural and heritage sectors “the beating heart of this country”, with Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden describing them as “the soul of our nation”.

Caroline Norbury MBE, CEO of the Creative Industries Federation and Creative England, commented:

This unprecedented £1.57 billion investment is a seismic step forward. Our creative industries are teetering on the brink of cultural collapse – and this could be the game changer we need. 

The voice of the creative sector has been heard loud and clear by the government and we warmly welcome their response.  This investment acknowledges the mission critical role that the UK’s creative industries will play in recovery and growth in all parts of the country.

However while this support will rescue many, so much has changed during the pandemic; there won’t necessarily be an easy return to normal. It is particularly heartening to see the reference to supporting freelancers, who are a phenomenally important part of the creative industries ecosystem. 

But there will be so much more to do to ensure that our world-beating creative sector can thrive once more and as we move forwards through the challenging days and months ahead it will be crucial that the creative industries work together to reimagine all of our futures.”

As part of our commitment to supporting the country’s creative industries and all of the sectors which sit under this umbrella, we carry out valuable policy and advocacy work. We make sure your voice is heard when it comes to addressing the Government to ensure that you maintain a valuable position in any key decisions that are made.

If you’re a freelancer or micro-business and would like to join our Community membership you can click here to join today. We’re offering you the chance to do so for FREE, until September 2020, as we guide you in your navigation of the ongoing economic crisis.