£3.2 million ‘lifeline’ boost for the arts in Norfolk and Waveney
PUBLISHED: 07:27 13 October 2020 | UPDATED: 11:03 13 October 2020
Theatres, music venues, museums and an iconic circus are celebrating after receiving a vital funding boost.
A total of 22 arts organisations in Norfolk and Waveney are set to benefit from a share of £3.2m in funding at a “critical time” for the industry.
Nationally, 1,385 theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations and cultural venues are benefiting from a share of £257m from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund,
With organisations that applied for grants in the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund informed on Monday of their awards by Arts Council England – which is distributing funding on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – there was joy as cash totalling £3,211,845 will be distributed.
This major investment will help much-loved arts organisations face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and ensure they have a sustainable future – as they create work, restart performances and plan for reopening.
Among the beneficiaries are the Hippodrome in Great Yarmouth – Britain’s only surviving circus building that was built in 1903 – which has received £182,907.
Norwich Puppet Theatre, which is one of only three building-based puppet theatres in England, has received £84,750, while the Sheringham Little Theatre has received a lifeline £76,644 grant.
This helps offset the losses the seaside venue – a vital community hub for the performing arts – has incurred since lockdown halted virtually all live performances since March.
Theatre director Debbie Thompson said: “This is fantastic news, and the team here are delighted after some worrying weeks.
“The grant helps us recoup past losses - and to be sustainable in the future, operating under the social distancing restrictions which cuts our capacity to 30pc.”
Internationally recognised, and at the heart of Norwich’s cultural community, Norwich Arts Centre (NAC) has been awarded £72,250.
It will reopen Thursdays to Sundays, kicking off with a mini performance festival entitled TILTED East from October 22-25. Following this, NAC will be opening as a safe, table serviced free-entry bar throughout the venue with weekly pop–up performances.
NAC director Pasco Kevlin said: “This funding is gratefully received and will allow us to continue to do what we do best which is put on cultural events for our community.”
In Norwich, 11 arts organisations will receive more than £1.8m and Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, said: “I am delighted to see that as part of the Culture Recovery Fund, the Government will be extending a £1.8m lifeline to 11 Norwich cultural institutions.”
“Quite a lot of constituents have been in touch with me seeking for support for the arts, and I think this shows how important it is to our city.
“It’s about jobs as much as culture.”
With this being the first in a series of announcements on the funding programmes administered by Arts Council England, applicants for grants in round two of the fund – which includes The Marina Theatre in Lowestoft – will be notified of their outcomes shortly.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said the investment is a vital “boost” for “cultural beacons” across the country.
Hedley Swain, Area Director, South East, Arts Council England, said: “We’re very pleased that more than £18million will go to over 100 arts, cultural and creative organisations across the East of England through the Culture Recovery Fund.
“It is a pivotal moment for so many organisations.
“We know that this investment by Government cannot save everyone; but it is vital, both to the immediate survival of so many and the long-term recovery of the whole sector.”
St. George’s Theatre in Great Yarmouth has been awarded £94,130 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, and Steve Scott, chair of trustees at St. Georges, said it is “an absolute lifesaver.”
Mr Scott said: “We faced the distinct possibility of having to mothball the theatre in the new year, which would have been an absolute tragedy after all the hard work that went into reviving its fortunes at the start of 2020, which promised to be a really successful year for the theatre.
“Set in a beautiful Grade I listed former chapel, St. George’s Theatre does not have fixed seating and can operate safely with cabaret-style tables and chairs and smaller audiences, enabling us to provide effective social distancing. We have an excellent programme of music, comedy, films and drama for the autumn and winter, including Rapunzel – The Lockdown Pantomime from December 15th-19th. St. George’s is at the cultural heart of Great Yarmouth and serves the whole community. This grant has put a huge smile on our faces, and I know that our audiences will be just as happy knowing that we can continue planning for an exciting 2021.”
Similar sentiments were shared by Alex Youngs, trustee of the Pavilion Theatre on Pier Gardens, Gorleston, which was awarded £71,700.
Mr Youngs said: “It’s fantastic to have received support from the Culture Recovery Fund at what is such a critical time for our industry and for all entertainment venues across our borough.
The Pavilion in particular is an extremely good example of how this fund is vital for enabling independent venues such as ours to survive. We receive no other grants or funding and instead rely entirely on bums-on-seats to keep the doors open, so the last six months or so have been particularly difficult for us having been fully closed since lockdown.
This grant however has taken away some of that pressure and will enable us to continue paying the bills whilst we focus on getting ready to re-open, starting with a brand new COVID Secure Christmas show this November, before welcoming our audiences back in 2021 with our rescheduled programme of events. Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis welcomed the Government’s cultural lifeline for the borough – with almost £500,000 going to 4 Great Yarmouth cultural institutions.
Mr Lewis said: “COVID-19 has effected almost everyone and every business in Great Yarmouth, but it is indisputable that the Theatre and Cultural sector have been particularly badly affected.
“This welcome cash injection of nearly £500k will help ensure that the Hippodrome, Ocean Room, Pavilion and St George’s theatres are able to endure this difficult time and come back stronger than ever.
“These institutions are part of the fabric of Great Yarmouth so I am delighted once again this Conservative Government taking steps to support our community.”
The Diss Corn Hall – which has been entertaining audiences from around the South Norfolk area for the last 10 years – has been awarded £54,950.
Lee Johnson, operations manager, said: “The Corn Hall is an important asset to Diss and South Norfolk and we are thankful to receive this funding.
“The Cultural Recovery Fund will ensure the survival of the Corn Hall as we move forward with coronavirus.
“All of us here at the Corn Hall are thankful and relieved that we can now focus on the future, knowing that the Corn Hall is secure financially until the end of March 2021.”
Lowestoft’s Seagull Theatre – which has worked tirelessly to stay open and stay active during the pandemic – has been awarded a grant of £86,424.
In July they launched a commissioning programme for freelance artists which resulted in a successful premiere evening last month.
Throughout September the Theatre had a special socially distanced season of shows every Friday alongside an online offering of live streamed concerts every Saturday.
From August the theatre was able to restart its activities for people living with Dementia and this month sees the return of its special Sunday film club also aimed at those who suffer from the debilitating condition.
Manager Karen Read said: “We are really pleased with this funding from Arts Council England.
“We have been working hard since July to stay open in a safe way for our customers, and this award means that we will be able to continue to do that as
long as the virus allows.
“We have been overwhelmed with all the lovely comments from our customers who were so complimentary about the covid secure measures we have put in place. “We were worried that people wouldn’t want to come to the theatre, but in fact we have seen great demand.”
The 22 arts organisations in Norfolk and Waveney to receive awards are:
Bressingham Steam Museum £193,409 South Norfolk
Brickmakers Live Ltd £174,958 Norwich
Diss Corn Hall £54,950 South Norfolk
Epic Studios £424,720 Norwich
Hippodrome Great Yarmouth £182,907
NORCA & Sistema in Norwich £125,000
Norfolk Museums Service £456,887 Norwich
Norwich Arts Centre £72,250
Norwich Puppet Theatre £84,750
Ocean Room £149,686 Great Yarmouth
Openwide Coastal £250,000 North Norfolk
Pavilion Theatre £71,700 Gorleston
Princess Theatre Limited £82,819 King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
Sheringham Little Theatre £76,644 North Norfolk
St. Georges Theatre £94,130 Great Yarmouth
The Garage trust £75,000 Norwich
The Oak Circus Centre £51,479 Norwich
The Seagull Lowestoft Community Interest Company £86,424 Pakefield
The Voice Project £50,000 Norwich
The Wharf Ltd. £66,000 Norwich
Waterfront (SUS) Ltd £293,132 Norwich
Wells Maltings Trust £95,000 North Norfolk
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