Culture Recovery Fund grants

DCMS has set out how organisations can apply for £880 million in grants from next week. As part of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, grants of up to £3 million will protect important cultural assets and ensure arts and heritage continues to play a key role in “levelling up” the country.

A new, independent Culture Recovery Board will be chaired by Sir Damon Buffini to help administer the programme, advising on the largest grant as well deciding the beneficiaries of the £270 million repayable finance element of the £1.57 billion package.

The British Film Institute, Arts Council EnglandHistoric England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund have published guidance on how they will judge and distribute applications (follow links for details – summaries can be found below).

British Film Institute 

A summary of the British Film Institute’s guidance on the £30m BFI Culture Recovery Fund, is as follows.

  • The fund will be open from Monday 10 August until Friday 30 October, with the first grants anticipated to be available from the end of August.
  • The fund is available for both non-profit and independent commercial cinemas (including mixed artform venues). Funding will be directed at building-based venues that provide a year-round film programme; it is, therefore, not available for film festivals or touring operators.
  • Cinemas are able to apply for grants from two strands that are structured as follows:
    • £3m for safety grants to enable cinemas (up to £10,000 per cinema) to put the necessary measures in place to ensure the safety of their workforce and the public; and/or
    • £27m business sustainability grants (up to £200,000 per organisation) to support independent cinemas to operate viably under the restricted conditions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Priority will be given to protect cultural assets in places where they are the only publicly funded organisation and/or are a key part of the cultural fabric in their community.
  • Cinemas applying to the fund for business sustainability grants will:
    • Be required to demonstrate a commitment to increasing their organisational diversity and the diversity of their audiences.
    • Be expected to make commitments to improving the diversity of their boards and their senior teams; the development of more public programmes by curators/programmers from minority backgrounds; and the greater use of culture venues as community spaces.
    • Be expected to demonstrate commitments to reducing negative impacts on the environment and increasing educational outreach.
  • The fund is for organisations in, and centrally manged in, England. Cinemas in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland come under the devolved government administrations.

A detailed breakdown of the criteria, is as follows.

  • ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA A FOR ALL AWARDS: There is not a single definition of an independent cinema but your organisation will be expected to meet at least three of the eligibility criteria below:
    • My organisations is not a subsidiary or affiliate of a larger organisation
    • My organisation has control over its own decisions regarding, for example, capital developments, operations and programming policies – there is not a separate ‘head office’ that such matters are controlled by
    • My organisation is privately owned and is either solely owned or has a small number of shareholders who are family members or people close to the business – there are no corporate shareholders and we are not listed on any stock exchange
    • My venue forms part of a local authority or higher education provider
    • My organisation is an independent charity that is run by a board of trustees.
  • ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA B FOR ALL AWARDS: You must be able to confirm all of the following eligibility requirements to be able to apply for a Safety and/or Business Sustainability Award from The Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England:
    • The core business of my organisation is year round exhibition of film, with at least 10 screenings per week and I have no more than 15 individual cinema sites in my organisation.
    • My organisation is an independent cinema in England and is a member of (or has applied to join) the BFI Film Audience Network
    • The board or owner and operator of the organisation has confirmed an opening date for the cinema
    • This application is being made by one of the directors/trustees of the company/charity which is registered, and centrally managed, in England
    • My venue forms part of a local authority or higher education provider
    • My organisation was financially viable (that is not ‘in difficulty’) on 31 December 2019 and I am able to demonstrate that we were operating sustainably and/or not at risk of no longer trading viably this financial year, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • The gross amount of funding received by the organisation under the UK’s state aid temporary framework for UK authorities is expected to be less than the sterling equivalent of €800,000 over a 3 year period.
  • ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA C FOR BUSINESS SUSTAINABILITY AWARDS ONLY: You must be able to confirm all of the following eligibility requirements to be able to apply for a Business Sustainability Award:
    • My organisation was financially viable before March 2020 and I am able to demonstrate that we were operating sustainably and/or not at risk of no longer trading viably this financial year, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Due to COVID-19, my organisation is at risk of no longer trading viably by the end of this financial year (2020/21). My organisation has exhausted all other financing options, and can demonstrate:
      • a. that we have explored all options to access the other forms of government
        support available, including loans
      • b. that we have no other source of affordable funding to sustainably support our
        organisation this financial year, including commercial lending
      • c. the current status of our organisation’s reserves
      • d. that we have taken all appropriate steps to reduce our costs before applying for
        grants/loans
      • e. that we have and are taking full advantage of commercial and other contributed
        income streams where possible to minimise call on the public purse. We are able to detail these plans and why other commercial options are not viable. This includes consideration of new and/or innovative approaches where possible within HMG COVID guidance, including:

        • I. Making use of regulatory easements to extend an organisation’s hospitality or
          trading offer.
        • II. Diversifying income streams, such as increasing an organisation’s digital offer.
        • III. Extending or maximising opening hours
    • My organisation provides a differentiated service or caters to a different audience to other cinema providers in my area
    • My organisation is able to demonstrate the following:
      • how we are adapting to changing operational practices during the COVID-19
        pandemic; and
      • that we are able to move towards a break-even position if successful in
        this application.

Arts Council England 

A summary of Arts Council England’s guidance on the Culture Recovery Fund, is as follows.

  • Organisations can apply for grants between £50,000 and £3 million.
  • The funding is available for:
    • Cultural organisations (both profit and not for profit) based in England that are properly constituted and are registered at Companies House and/or Charity Commission, and are able to produce at least one year’s full independently certified or audited financial statements.
    • Local Authorities, Universities and other Public Sector bodies who run or maintain cultural services can also apply.
    • For this programme, Arts Council England define ‘cultural’ as sitting within the remit of Arts Council England, however Library services are not eligible to apply.
  • Whilst there are two rounds for this fund, Arts Council England expect to allocate approximately 75% of the overall budget to the first round, so strongly encourages organisation to apply in round 1.
    • Round 1: Application Open Date: 12pm (midday), 10 August – Application Deadline: 12pm (midday), 21 August
    • Round 2: Application Open Date: 4pm, 21 August – Application Deadline: 12pm (midday), 4 September.

Historic England/National Lottery Heritage Fund 

The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage is part of the £1.57 billion rescue package announced by DCMS to safeguard cultural and heritage organisations across the UK from the economic impact of COVID-19. The National Lottery Heritage Fund is distributing £88m of this to organisations in England through the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage, in partnership with Historic England.

A summary of the guidance is as follows:

  • Applications can be made between Thursday 30 July until noon on 17 August 2020, with decisions aiming to be made by the end of September, for applications up to £1m. Applications for £1m or more will be reviewed by an independent board appointed by DCMS, with decisions taking slightly longer.
  • If you manage more than one heritage site, please submit one application for your organisation as a whole.
  • This fund is designed to support heritage organisations that are at risk of no longer trading viably this financial year. The National Lottery Heritage Fund are accepting applications from heritage organisations in England, including:
    • Not for profit organisations that manage heritage sites, venues or attractions
    • Local authorities, universities and other public sector bodies that manage heritage sites, venues or attractions
    • Private owners of heritage sites, venues or attractions that are normally open to the public 28 days a year or more
    • For profit businesses that are a vital part of the heritage ecosystem and who generate the largest portion of their income from heritage work, this includes conservators, contractors, specialists and suppliers
    • Organisations that manage culturally significant assets or collections
    • Organisations that provide significant support to the heritage sector
  • Under this programme we are not accepting applications from:
    • Organisations that manage heritage that is not in England
    • Organisations that were not operating sustainably before March 2020
    • Organisations that can apply for support from the Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England or The British Film Institute. This includes, accredited museums or museums that are working towards accreditation and cinemas.
    • Organisations that need more than £3million to stabilise this financial year and become viable again. If this is applies to you, you may be eligible to apply for repayable finance administered and managed by Arts Council England.
    • Organisations that manage or preserve natural habitats and species.