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Culture Recovery Fund

Volume 680: debated on Thursday 24 September 2020

What progress his Department has made on delivering support for the culture and heritage sector through the culture recovery fund. (906486)

What progress his Department has made on delivering support for the culture and heritage sector through the culture recovery fund. (906498)

Arts and heritage are the heart and soul our communities across the whole nation. That is why we announced the unprecedented £1.57 billion culture recovery fund to help countless organisations to weather this covid storm. We have already saved 135 grassroots music venues from imminent collapse. Arts Council England and other DCMS arms-length bodies are currently assessing thousands of applications from other organisations, and successful applicants will be informed from October.

Despite heroic efforts from the local community and local councils, the much-loved Stag theatre in Sevenoaks is at risk. Will my right hon. Friend wish the Stag luck in its upcoming application to the culture recovery fund? If it is successful and is saved, will he join me at the annual pantomime to mark the end of a challenging year?

Of course, I am very happy to wish it the very best of luck. The actual decision will be made by Arts Council England. Were the theatre to be successful, and indeed in any event, I would of course be delighted to join my hon. Friend in a pantomime performance. I know it is facing very difficult circumstances at the moment, particularly as a not-for-profit charity dependent on income from ticket sales. I understand that it has made its application and that it is currently being considered.

Will the Secretary of State consider utilising leftover funds from the culture recovery fund to create an emergency fund that historic house wedding venues, like many in the Derbyshire Dales constituency, will be eligible to apply to for emergency assistance in these difficult times?

My hon. Friend makes a very important point. Our wonderful country houses are a real pillar of our cultural life. Indeed, I had a wonderful visit to Knebworth House in Hertfordshire, and I know what a central role they play not just as cultural institutions but as venues. As she will know, the Government have provided extensive support across the economy through furlough, business loans and VAT relief that will have benefited them, but of course we will continue to look at other proposals.