25 August 2020

Lark Music welcomes £1.57bn arts rescue package and green light for indoor music performances to resume

By Lark Music
Indoor music event with stage lights
Lark Music applauds the UK Government’s £1.57bn rescue package to weather the storm of Covid-19.

We have witnessed so many of music venues and theatres tirelessly working to find a way to continue to support live music – and many are our clients and business friends.

They will now be protected with emergency grants and loans, plus funding will also be provided to restart construction work at cultural and heritage sites paused as a result of the pandemic.

The Government’s  latest update on August 13 also provided some measure of relief allowing indoor performances with socially-distanced audiences to resume from August 15.

The classical music industry has been facing major problems; venues are expensive to run and freelance musicians have seen their work schedule collapse.

Many of Lark Music’s friends have streamed performances to reach a wider online audience but for many venues or orchestras to survive they need a regular live audience.

World-leading Wigmore Hall has programming plans for 80 concerts in September and October, featuring 150 leading musicians from the UK and Europe. It will open with a song recital by the Olivier Award-winning German baritone Christian Gerhaher and the pianist Gerold Huber.

The auditorium capacity will initially be reduced in compliance with social distancing guidelines.

Live audiences for The Proms have not been confirmed but the music will play on this summer until September 12.

Biggest one-off investment

Meanwhile, thousands of organisations including the performing arts, theatres and live music are accessing emergency grants and loans. It’s the government’s biggest ever one-off investment in UK culture and will help the organisations stay afloat while their doors are closed.

We are also hugely conscious that funding to restart paused projects will also help support employment, including the thousands of freelancers working in these sectors.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “From iconic theatre and musicals, mesmerising exhibitions at our world-class galleries to gigs performed in local basement venues, the UK’s cultural industry is the beating heart of this country.”

Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer highlighted that the arts employs more than 700,000 people and said they are the ‘lifeblood of British culture’, while Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden added: “Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast growing creative industries.”

Lark Music friends have welcomed the Government’s positive mood including violinist Nicola Benedetti, whose online performance of Lark Ascending during Philharmonia Sessions: Schubert and Vaughan Williams on September 17 will be supported by Lark Music, said: “This significant investment demonstrates a dedication to humanity that gives us all hope during times of unimaginable uncertainty.”

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, whose cello is insured by Lark Music, said: “Music, art and the performing arts are critical for the vitality of our diverse cultural life. As artists we are desperate to return to what we love doing and to share the richness of our creative sector.”

Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber said: “It is absolutely critical that Britain’s cultural sector is restored to health as soon as possible, and I look forward to seeing the details of the rescue package and working further with Oliver and the Government to get all of Britain’s theatres open as soon as possible.”

Kevin Price, Head of Music Performance at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, said: “The support package provides initial hope for arts organisations and performing artists.
The cumulative impact of imaginative artistic experiences is significant, building relationships within local communities, fostering a sense of shared purpose, and reaching out internationally to connect with others.

“Moments of crisis highlight our human need to share, to create and to imagine and the socio-economic and political impact of the UK arts sector is inestimable. Expressive Arts teach us how to listen, observe, reflect, imagine and to build and sustain relationships. During lockdown we have been reminded of  the fact that ‘Soft Skills’ are the building blocks of society and that imagination, acceptance and understanding make our world worth living in. The time ahead is going to be tough, but UK artists are resourceful, resilient and dedicated to the future.”

Mark Pemberton, Association of British Orchestras, said: “Orchestras and their musicians have been hard-hit by the Covid-19 crisis, from the cancellation of tours to Asia in January, followed by the enforced shutdown of concert halls across the UK in March. This much-needed investment, and the guidance for reopening, will help get orchestras back to work, we hope, later this year.”

Sir Simon Rattle, Music Director London Symphony Orchestra, said: “We are an immensely interconnected industry, so it is important that these funds percolate from the grassroots up, and we hope it will be distributed as fast as possible. Preferably faster, as so many institutions and individual artists have been staring into the abyss. We can now focus on serving the entire community and celebrate the richness of our cultural heritage.”

Alex Beard, Chief Executive Royal Opera House, said he warmly welcomes the package and added: “Over the months ahead we will need to draw all on our collective ingenuity and determination to adapt to the realities of re-opening our theatres. We now look forward to celebrating the return of our artforms, our community of staff and artists and importantly, welcoming our audiences back to the Royal Opera House.”

How the new arts package is made up

The new arts package includes a £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England delivered through a mix of grants and loans. This will be made up of £270m of repayable finance and £880m grants.

£100 million of targeted support for the national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust.

£120 million capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and for heritage construction projects in England which was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The new funding will also mean an extra £188 million for the devolved administrations in Northern Ireland (£33m), Scotland (£97m) and Wales (£59m).

Decisions on awards will be made working alongside expert independent figures from the sector including the Arts Council England and other specialist bodies such as Historic England, National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

Repayable finance will be issued on terms tailored for cultural institutions to ensure they are affordable.

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