Crucial £3.7m arts funding to keep Black Country attractions alive and kicking

The Grand Theatre and Black Country Living Museum have been handed lifeline grants worth £3.75m.

The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton has been awarded £1.19 million
The Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton has been awarded £1.19 million

The historic theatre in Wolverhampton has been awarded £1.19m in the latest round of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, while Black Country Living Museum (BCLM) gets £2.56m,

Today's announcement sees eight of the region’s most famous arts organisations sharing funding totalling £17m.

Birmingham Hippodrome will get £3m, Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall will receive £2.53m, Ironbridge Gorge will get £1.86m, and Birmingham Rep will be given £1.38m.

Arts Council England says the funding will allow venues to survive the pandemic and help protect jobs which have been placed under threat due to the lockdown.

The Black Counry Living Museum has been given £2.56 million

The Grand, which celebrated its 125th anniversary last year, has been closed since March 17, with bosses forced to either cancel or postpone dozens of planned performances.

CEO and artistic director Adrian Jackson, said: “With no income coming in, this funding is the lifeline the theatre needed. It has bought us time and given us the freedom to plan for the future.”

BCLM was forced to close for five months due to the coronavirus crisis before reopening in August with a cap on visitor numbers.

This resulted in attendances being less than half their usual level, which bosses say has had a serious impact on its financial stability.

Black Country Living Museum reopened to the public in August

Chief executive Andrew Lovett, said: “These funds will help us to adapt to survive in the short term, so that we can thrive and grow with our community in the long term.

"Prior to Covid-19 this museum was enormously successful. This critical funding provides the means to be successful once more."

Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall will partially reopen thanks to the grant, with socially distanced performances from City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO).

CEO Nick Reed, said the award served as “an emphatic endorsement of the value that our charity contributes to the cultural and economic life of the region”.

“We will waste no time in re-opening our doors,” he said. “Today’s news means that we can prepare to welcome audiences and artists back to our venues and, in less than two weeks’ time, we will stage the first in a series of socially-distanced concerts from the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

“We are aware that there are still challenges ahead for the future of our iconic venues and the live music sector as a whole.

“Until we can present concerts without social distancing we are living on borrowed time.

"Despite these challenges, we remain committed to our mission of inspiring a love of live music through performance, participation and learning.”

Birmingham Hippodrome is hoping to bring the crowds back (picture taken pre-Covid restrictions)

Bosses at Birmingham Hippodrome say their £3m funding will enable them to cover the costs of reopening parts of the building, make areas Covid compliant and support running costs.

The cash will also allow them to restart their youth companies and to engage with schoolchildren digitally, and for them to plan and run events across the West Midlands.

Artistic Director and CEO Fiona Allan, said: "We are now able to take tentative steps towards plans that can help secure our long-term future.

"Until we knew whether we were successful in being offered funding, it has been difficult to envisage what the future of Birmingham Hippodrome would be."

The UK’s oldest building-based theatre company, the Birmingham Rep – where Sir Lenny Henry launched his career – is planning to put on Covid-safe events and create new jobs for artists and freelancers.

Artistic director, Sean Foley and executive director, Rachael Thomas said: "Without this essential grant there is no doubt that the future of our historic theatre would have been greatly compromised.

"We can now channel our efforts into securing the future of The Rep, protecting jobs, and employing freelancers."

Hustle star Adrian Lester said the funding was 'wonderful news'

Brummie actor Adrian Lester, trustee of the board at the Rep, said: "This wonderful news ensures that this historic, pioneering theatre will be there to inspire and entertain again when it is possible to return to full production."

Bosses at Ironbridge Gorge Museum say the cash will help it through the winter, with Blists Hill, Old Furnace, Museum of Iron, Museum of the Gorge and Toll House set to be open until the end of 2020 before closing for maintenance.

Birmingham Museums Trust – which manages museums including Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery where the Staffordshire Hoard is on display – is to get £1.87m.

The funding will be used to support the trust while it prepares to safely reopen sites to the public with limited capacity, including Thinktank.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Warwickshire has been awarded £3m.

Across the country 35 venues have received total funding of £75m, adding to £334m that has been awarded to nearly 2,000 cultural organisations and venues since the fund was launched. Further awards are due to be announced in the coming weeks.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden says the funding will save British cultural icons

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, said: "As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, today we’re saving British cultural icons with large grants of up to £3 million.

"These places and organisations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what make us the cultural superpower we are.

"This vital funding will secure their future and protect jobs right away."

Peter Knott, Midlands director for Arts Council England, said the cash would help treasured venues to stay in business through to the Spring.

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