Sturgeon: Arts sector will get every penny of new funding

A total of £97m is coming to Scotland from a UK Government support package for the arts.

Fresh support funding for the arts in Scotland will be passed on to the sector “in full”, the First Minister has said.

Museums, galleries and theatres will be able to apply for emergency grants and loans made available as part of a £1.57bn package announced by the UK Government.

That funding pot includes £97m for the Scottish Government – cash that Nicola Sturgeon said she “very much welcomes”.

The Treasury announcement on Sunday came after a £10m package for the arts and culture announced by the Scottish Government two days earlier.

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Scotland will receive £97m in funding from the UK Government package, while Wales will be allocated £59m and Northern Ireland £33m.

Independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues are also to be eligible for emergency financing aimed at protecting the future of the arts.

The £1.15bn support pot for cultural organisations in England will be made up of £270m of repayable finance and £880m of grants.

Sturgeon said her government was inquiring with UK counterparts as to how the funding will actually work north of the border.

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She also vowed to engage with the Scottish arts sector about how the money could best be spent.

Speaking at the daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “We very much welcome the announcement from the UK Government last night of a significant package of financial support.”

She added: “I want to give an assurance today that the funding announced last night by the UK Government will be passed on in full in Scotland to our arts, culture and heritage sector.

“I hope today’s news together with last week’s announcement from the Scottish Government will provide people working across the sector with some optimism about the future.”

Responding to questions from journalists, the First Minister confirmed the previously announced £10m from the Scottish Government will be added on top of the £97m from the UK Government, taking the total cash injection to £107m

She added: “Arts and culture and heritage is important in every part of our country – not just our cities, but literally in every corner of our country – and it’s important that this funding supports arts and culture in every part of our country and we’ll be determined to make sure it does.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is “still considering carefully” the return of live events that would supports arts and cultural venues.

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The new funding will allow ministers to provide “much more support” to venues, including helping them to stay afloat until live events are given the go-ahead, she claimed.

The First Minister continued: “We found out about this funding last night so we’re working to get clarity on the different strands of that.

“We will want to have some engagement with the arts, culture and heritage sector here in Scotland to make sure that not just every penny of it goes to businesses and freelancers in those sectors but that we get the structuring of that support right.

“Arts and culture is such an integral part of not just our economy but our wellbeing as a society and therefore we have a duty to support it as much as we can.”

Hailing the Treasury funding on Sunday night, Scottish secretary Alister Jack said: “This UK Government investment in protecting Britain’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions means a welcome £97m boost for Holyrood.

“I urge the Scottish Government to use this extra money to support Scotland’s vibrant and diverse cultural organisations which have been so significantly impacted by the coronavirus restrictions.

“The talent and creativity of Scottish arts organisations is renowned throughout the UK and internationally.

“I know they have the creativity and resilience to bounce back better than ever with the right support.”