Arts Council England Key Information

Several hours later, Arts Council England posted its side of the story regarding the £500 million fund. This doesn’t always obviously line up with the government’s statements.

The first point to note is that there is does not seem to be any provision for the beleaguered self-employed.

There will be two rounds of funding split roughly 75:25. This is also not going to be a quick fix, since the deadlines for applications are respectively 21 August and 4 September.

The intention is that those successful in the first round of applications will be notified by 5 October for grants of up to £1 million and 23 October for larger amounts.

The second round announcements will take place on 16 October and 6 November respectively.

This means that even arts organisations that are successful will have waited at least 7 to 8 months for funding and possibly even longer depending on when payouts are finally made.

Cultural organisations can apply for grants between £50,000 and £3 million. Large organisations will be disadvantaged further, since they will have to apply to the Culture Recovery Fund, which will administer the £270 million additional loan package. Organisations requiring over £3 million will only be able to apply to this fund, i.e. they cannot benefit from the Arts Council England grants package.

When this money eventually becomes available, the loan terms are relatively generous covering a repayment period of 20 years with an initial repayment holiday of up to 4 years and 2% interest rate per annum.

The intention behind the funding is to provide six months of support covering the period to 31 March 2021, by which point it is assumed that they can reopen either fully or partially. It is unclear how these organisations are supposed to fill the funding gap up to 30 September 2020, while no funding is to be provided beyond March 2021.

As the application document says, “organisations must have been financially sustainable before COVID-19 but are now at imminent risk of failure and have exhausted all other options for increasing their resilience.” Proving this could be quite a challenge.

Many might wonder whether the funding and timing will be adequate to allow a large number of struggling theatres and companies to survive in the short term, let alone into the future. Even where they can, has to be a strong possibility of large-scale redundancies in order to justify the funding application and keep businesses afloat.

As for the self-employed…