'Thankful' Sheffield venues 'cautiously optimistic' over £1.57bn relief package for the arts

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Sheffield music venues and theatres have said they are ‘cautiously optimistic’ for the £1.57 billion support package for the arts announced by the Government today, but are waiting for more details about how it will help struggling venues, staff and freelancers.

The Government has announced the support package to "protect" 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.

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Arts Council England, the Royal Opera House, the Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre, and the Music Venue Trust – which all campaigned for support for at-risk venues suffering due to the lockdown – were among those to welcome the funding.

The Lyceum and The Crucible in Sheffield.The Lyceum and The Crucible in Sheffield.
The Lyceum and The Crucible in Sheffield.

Venues in Sheffield have also welcomed the aid, however say that more details are needed before the full potential of the cash injection is understood.

A spokesperson for Sheffield Theatres said: “We are so thankful. The closure of Sheffield Theatres since March and the cancellation of our planned programme of work has had an enormous impact on our business, our staff and our audiences.

“This unprecedented investment will support our theatres and freelancers to survive and thrive. We'd also like to thank everyone across the industry who has campaigned and helped to achieve this outcome.

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“We know there is more detail to understand and we must wait for further guidelines. In the meantime, we look forward to learning more about the government's funding package and how this can support us to look to the future and return to creating bold and brilliant work for our stages when it is safe to do so.”

Meanwhile The Leadmill, which announced it was at risk of closure last week, say they are not celebrating just yet.

A spokesperson said: “At this point we don’t know the details in the announcement and how the money will be distributed.

“We’re still waiting on clarification on what money venues and contractors can access but we are cautiously optimistic and look forward to working with Music Venues Trust who are working closely with government to ensure all live music venues are able to open safely when the time is right.”

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

Museums have also said they face an uncertain future, while 1,500 artists and acts signed a letter to Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden calling for a road map for the live music industry.

The Government said the money "represents the biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture" and will help struggling institutions "stay afloat while their doors are closed".

Mr Dowden said he understood the "grave challenges" facing the arts sector and that the investment demonstrated the Government's "level of commitment" in supporting it.

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Funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic, the Government said.

Labour shadow DCMS secretary Jo Stevens said while she welcomed the "much-needed" cash injection, it was "too little, too late" for many.