ARTS and cultural leaders across the region have welcomed a £1.57bn Government support package aimed at protecting the future of Britain’s museums, galleries and theatres.

Independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues are also eligible for the emergency grants and loans announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak yesterday.

The package comes after some UK theatres- which are not yet able to stage live performances – have closed down, making staff redundant, amid the pandemic.

Darlington Hippodrome programming and development director Heather Tarran-Jones said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear there is some kind of package that has been announced. We are anxiously waiting to see how that will be divided across the arts and cultural organisations.

The Northern Echo:

Darlington Hippodrome, which continues to engage people online, has welcomed the Government announcement of a rescue package for the arts and culture

"We’ve been told that organisations like the Arts Council and Lottery Fund will be working with organisations to decide how that is best divided. Hopefully there will be some support their for organisations like the Hippodrome and others that are in a worse situation that us, to make sure that we can continue to deliver fantastic arts and activities across the country and particularly in the North-East.”

Sage Gateshead managing director Abigail Pogson said: “Sage Gateshead welcomes the support package announced by the Government.

“This is a significant and vital step for our sector and will help arts and heritage organisations through this crisis. We are grateful to Government for putting this in place. We know that the coming months will hold plenty of challenges and we will need to adapt and draw on our creativity and determination to get the building open and live activity running again.

“We are determined for our audiences, our musicians and our communities to do so, which is why we have launched A Future for Live Music in the North-East, a campaign to raise £3m over three years along with a set of conversations with musicians, audiences and communities about what the future should hold.

“We look forward to Sage Gateshead and the arts and heritage more generally playing a role in the nation’s recovery from this crisis.”

Karon Wright, artistic and executive director of Samling Institute for Young Artists, said: “As an organisation dedicated to nurturing young classical singers and pianists, we welcome this commitment by the Government.

“Although our work offering coaching and development has continued through the lockdown, the artists we support need venues to perform in, and they need to be confident that the profession to which they have dedicated so much time and talent has a future. “Today’s announcement gives us hope that the government intend to safeguard the arts and we look forward to sharing our work with audiences again as soon as it is safe to do so.’

Liz Fisher, engagement and curatorial director at The Auckland Project, said: “We are pleased that the Government has announced the £1.57b support package for the arts and culture.

“The investment not only recognises the economic benefits of the arts, culture and heritage but also the positive impact they play in the health and wellbeing of people, from all walks of life.”

The Northern Echo:

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an arts lifeline

Iain Watson, director of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, said: “It is very positive news that the Government has announced funding for the cultural sector.

“We were involved in making the case to government that the sector needed this support in order to survive and it is really good that they listened.

“Now it is all about the detail and I’ll be keen to understand how the funding will be distributed and which organisations will be eligible. It is important that it supports organisations across artforms, both large and small and nationally, regionally and locally if it is to truly make a difference.

“The impact of lockdown on Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums has been significant. We estimate a loss of income of around £1.5m – and whilst we have been able to mitigate against this with savings we have been able to make during closure, we still have a substantial shortfall.

“This support is needed not only to help museums reopen but also once we have reopened and are working with reduced visitor numbers and reduced income from retail, catering, admissions and venue hire.

“I hope that this funding will be a lifeline to help cultural organisations weather this storm. The alternative is too depressing to think about – imagine a world without museums, art galleries theatres, music venues and cinemas – it would be a world without heart and soul.”

Sarah Green, chief executive of NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “The cultural sector is critical in driving tourism and attracting visitors to the region, so it’s great news that the Chancellor has announced this package of support.

“Our vibrant cultural offer is what makes the North East so special – a great place to live for residents, as well as an attractive destination for visitors, students and investors. For those reasons, we would urge that this money is invested throughout the regions and not simply shared around London’s flagship cultural venues.

“We will be working with our partners in the cultural sector to study the detail of these proposals and ensure that the region’s brilliant cultural, arts and heritage institutions benefit.”

Councillor Simon Henig, leader of Durham County Council, said: “We welcome the announcement from the Government about the support package to assist British cultural venues during this difficult time.

“The arts and heritage sector has been hit hard by the lockdown restrictions and additional funding is desperately needed to sustain venues and organisations and to protect the hundreds of thousands of jobs they support.

“It is vital the investment is distributed fairly to where it is most needed, not concentrated in London and including rural areas, and we will be making this point strongly to Government and national agencies.”