UK cultural sector to receive a £1.57 billion rescue package

The UK government has announced a £1.57 billion rescue package for culture, arts and heritage. The UK Museums Association welcomes the package, which through emergency grants and loans will help the sector weather the devastating impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

A joint statement from the National Museum Directors’ Council, Association for Independent Museums and the Museums Association (MA) said: “We welcome the government’s announcement of £1.57bn for the culture and heritage sector. 

"Across the country museums have worked tirelessly to provide entertainment, education and solace to the British public during the crisis and the levels of engagement with museums have proven that these organisations are more needed than ever, however they have done this against a background of incredible uncertainty about the future.  

As museums across the country begin to reopen over the coming months, they will play a crucial role in the recovery as towns, city centres and rural economies begin to open up following the lockdown. 

This funding is a signal that the government is committed to supporting our essential national and regional institutions through this challenging time. The capital investment will help avert a secondary crisis for existing grant holders that are already part way through capital initiatives, ensuring that these vital projects can deliver their intended public benefits.

We hope that this package marks a sea change in the government's commitment to securing a sustainable future for the museum sector and in realising the ambition of ensuring people in every corner of the UK are able to enjoy and participate in culture.”

In a further response, MA director Sharon Heal said “the task now is for a strategic and equitable distribution of funding that will allow museums to reopen safely and do the vital work of supporting communities to rebuild”.

The union Prospect, which represents thousands of workers in the heritage, cultural and creative sectors, said: “We have been warning government for months about the catastrophic effects that dealing with coronavirus was having on the whole cultural sector. 

The government must start to pump money into organisations in the sector this week if we don’t want to see more job losses and employers folding. There can’t be any more foot dragging. Unions like ours still stand ready to work with government to get this right. 

Now the government have shown they are willing to act on this - it is time for them to act on the ‘forgotten freelancers’ too. These workers, so unfairly left out of government support schemes, need some support too.”