24th Nov, 2020

39 arts organisations in Birmingham and Solihull receive a £6.2m lifeline

Catherine Vonledebur 13th Oct, 2020 Updated: 13th Oct, 2020

39 arts organisations in Birmingham and Solihull have received a £6.2 million government ‘lifeline’.

Recipients of the funding awarded through the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, include Birmingham Royal Ballet, Solihull’s Urban Audio Productions, Corey Baker Dance, Geese Theatre in Moseley, Hare and Hounds Pub, Kings Heath, The Pen Museum in the Jewellery Quarter and Sonia Sabri Company.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says the investment is a “vital boost” for “cultural beacons” across the country as £257m is awarded to 1,385 arts and cultural organisation across the country, with more to be announced in coming weeks.

Across Birmingham this desperately-needed cash injection will help 39 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations, museums and local venues to survive over the next six months post-Covid, helping them to create work and performances, and plan for reopening.

Birmingham Royal Ballet, under Cuban ballet dancer Carlos Acosta, receives £500,000 to bring back ballet in a staged and planned manner. Live-streamed performances at the Birmingham REP have sold out, and more socially distanced and live performances are planned for the autumn, including a 30th anniversary production of The Nutcracker in the city for a large socially distanced audience, followed by performances at the Royal Albert Hall.

Carlos Acosta, Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet said: “The Culture Recovery Funding is a lifeline for the Arts. It provides a bridge towards longer term recovery, the full return of audiences and our ability to contribute millions to the economy.

“We are grateful for this government support and glad that money is starting to reach colleagues and partners across the industry. It will support our continuing plans to start performing again, to urgently re-shape how we run our businesses in a changed world, and to entertain live audiences.”

Urban Audio Productions in Solihull has been awarded £110,000. This talented local company provides audio and lighting equipment for live events, music tours and gigs from mixing front of house for Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and joining the former Oasis frontman’s Stranded On Earth World Tour in 2019 to lighting up Warwick Castle for their recent Open Arms food event with Digbeth Dining Club and Warwickshire’s Camper Calling Festival.

Corey Baker Dance, led by New Zealand-born artistic director and choreographer Corey Baker, whose Bathtub Swan Lake was one of the most watched performances in the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine series, has been awarded  £124,836 towards developing new digital dance projects; while Moseley’s Geese Theatre Company, who perform challenging work in prisons, receives £52,062 to guarantee the company’s survival, protect staff jobs and continue their work.

The Pen Museum – the only museum in the UK devoted to the pen making industry and uncovers the history of Birmingham’s steel pen trade, has secured £67,500 allowing it to remain open, digitise part of their collection and to deliver Covid-safe cultural activities, including online workshops and commissioning an artist to develop children’s trails and educational resources.

Live music venue The Hare and Hounds gets £75,000 to develop online streaming opportunities and Sonia Sabri Company, which creates music and dance inspired by Eastern and Western cultures, receives £64,141 to help them work towards re-opening in a new location and increasing online classes, content for children, young people and schools and interactive workshops for elderly and isolated people.

It is the biggest amount of funding distributed to date from the Culture Recovery Fund, and the first round of grants administered by Arts Council England.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country – from the Beamish museum in County Durham to the Birmingham Royal Ballet and the Bristol Old Vic.

“This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: “The government’s package is hugely welcome, providing much of the sector with resources to remain in business through to the Spring. Well-loved community projects, theatres, galleries, museums, clubs, music venues, festivals, key cultural suppliers along with other creative spaces and projects have benefited. This is welcome news not only for those in receipt of the funding but also for communities in villages, towns and cities across the Midlands where this matters so much.

“We know that creativity, arts and culture benefit us in so many ways, having a positive impact on our wellbeing, bringing us together and making a significant contribution to the local and national economy – today’s announcements gives us a chance to continue that and contribute to the national recovery, post-Covid.”

Applicants for grants of over £1 million, as well as those who applied to round two of the fund and the Repayable Finance programme, will be notified of their outcomes shortly.

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