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Theatres, music venues and museums breathe a sigh of relief at emergency funding

PUBLISHED: 17:48 12 October 2020 | UPDATED: 17:48 12 October 2020

John Plews of Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

John Plews of Upstairs at the Gatehouse Theatre, Highgate. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

Venues including Hampstead Theatre, Kiln, Jacksons Lane and The Jewish Museum successfully applied for the culture recovery fund to stay afloat during the pandemic

The Kiln Theatre which is one of the theatres that has been wrapped by set designers as part of the Scene Change Missing Live Theatre campaign has been awarded an emergency Arts Council grant to help during closureThe Kiln Theatre which is one of the theatres that has been wrapped by set designers as part of the Scene Change Missing Live Theatre campaign has been awarded an emergency Arts Council grant to help during closure

Theatres, museums, music and arts venues across North London are breathing a sigh of relief after being thrown lifelines from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

The Roundhouse, Kiln, Hampstead Theatre, Park Theatre, Upstairs at the Gatehouse Jacksons Lane and Clean Break were among 1385 arts and culture organisations nationwide to successfully apply for the first round of emergency cash to stay afloat during the pandemic.

Music venues and organisations awarded funds included the Aurora Orchestra helmed by Crouch End conductor Nicholas Collon, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment based at Acland Burghley School, Chalk Farm rock venue The Camden Assembly, and Marylebone’s Wigmore Hall which was handed £1 million.

Camden Town folk venue the Green Note said their £92K would mean they could “cover our costs and survive the next six months”.

Hampstead Theatre has been awarded a Government grant to stay afloat during pandemicHampstead Theatre has been awarded a Government grant to stay afloat during pandemic

“We have been in a state of limbo and uncertainty for so long, not knowing what our next steps should be so this news was extremely welcome and much needed. Needless to say, we are delighted and extremely relieved that our venue is safe until March 2021.”

Camden Town’s Jewish Museum was awarded £249,000 and contemporary gallery Camden Art Centre in Arkwright Road, Hampstead £117,000.

Further afield there were successful bids for the Almeida, Little Angel puppet theatre, Angel Comedy, the Old Red Lion, Hackney Empire, Kings Head and Arcola.

John Plews who runs Highgate’s Upstairs at the Gatehouse said their £56,000 grant would go towards making the venue Covid-safe, turning a fire-escape into a separate exit, buying a machine to spray anti-viral mist, and employing and training staff to take audience temperatures and observe safety guidelines.

“It’s great that so many people got what they asked for and we are delighted,” he said.

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“The builders started work this morning and we are going for it with a reading of a new play about Princess Margaret that we have commissioned on November 12.”

The Gatehouse also has plans for a pared down Christmas show with four cast members and two musicians.

Plews added: “With social distancing we will be down to 40-45 seats but we have had so much support from our patrons and the community that we owe it to everyone to open if we can, because that’s what we are here to do. People will come if they think it is safe.”

Hampstead Theatre gained £462,800 and artistic director Roxana Silbert said they were planning to stage more live theatre including The Dumb Waiter in November: “We are relieved to have been successful. This support means that we can keep theatre alive and nourish our communities while we navigate our way through the pandemic. We intend to continue to produce a programme of inspiring and thought-provoking work beyond the limited run of The Dumb Waiter and offer employment to the highly skilled, freelance creative workforce who have been so deeply affected by the closure of our industry.”

Marcus Davey, CEO and Artistic Director, Roundhouse said they were “extremely grateful” for their £775,000.

“Having lost over 70 percent of our income due to Covid this support is vital for the Roundhouse’s survival. The money will enable us to reopen the Roundhouse Studios, our creative centre for young people and to test some socially distanced shows as we aim to welcome audiences back. The support is vital across our sector as it will help stabilise organisations as they begin to reopen their doors to audiences and communities. It isn’t going to be an easy road ahead but this does help us take major steps towards rebuilding and in time reopening.”

Kilburn’s Kiln Theatre was awarded £364,338 which theatre managers said “means we can begin to build a more secure plan for working with our community of theatre makers and neighbours”.

“It’s a difficult time for many, and there are tough times ahead. We are determined not just to survive but be bold and brave, to build a future where theatre and culture is for everyone.”

At Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, artistic director Jez Bond thanked the Arts Council who administer the fund for recognising the role they play in their community. He said the £250,000 would help them survive until it was safe to reopen.

“The very essence of theatre is gathering people together in the same room for a live, shared experience – and the economics of venues at our scale, mean that it’s not financially viable to produce shows with social distancing in place. This money, will enable us to prepare our building so it’s ‘Covid-secure’, and subsidise us to present smaller scale work until we can reopen fully. It also allows us to offer the space for the development of diverse, new work – to support freelance practitioners who – in the majority of cases – have slipped through the net in terms of support packages.”

Sir Nicholas Serota chair of Arts Council England said further rounds of funding would be announced in the coming weeks: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences.”


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