Reading Receives almost £1.5 million Lifeline Grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

Arts and Heritage Funding
Arts and Heritage Funding

ARTS, CULTURE AND HERITAGE organisations across Reading have been awarded grants totalling almost £1.5million as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced.

The grants include £989,374 for Reading Arts and Venues (including Reading Museum) and £80,500 for running events safely in the Abbey Quarter.

Culture in Reading - Readign Hexagon

Several other local organisations are also set to benefit, including The Museum of English Rural Life, CultureMix Arts Ltd, Reading Repertory Theatre and Readipop.

Cllr Karen Rowland, Reading’s Lead Member for Culture, Heritage and Recreation, said: “Huge congratulations to all the arts and heritage organisations across our town who will benefit from this lifeline. This only goes to show just how valued our arts, culture and heritage sectors are here in Reading and the awards announced today acknowledge this importance within our community.

“The challenges we’ve faced this year have shone a light on how much we need the arts and culture as an antidote to the stresses, pressure and isolation we have faced during the pandemic. I truly believe that it is the input of our arts and culture sector that has, and will, continue to aid our community’s recovery and wellbeing.  I’m heartened, in such uncertain times, that with the help of this funding our cultural, arts and heritage sector can continue to successfully play this role going forward.

“As a Council, we are grateful for the incredibly generous funding that has been announced for our Arts and Venues, including the Hexagon, South Street and Reading Museum. We are in the process of finalising all the necessary checks and requirements needed for such a huge sum of money, and we’ll publish more details soon on how this funding will benefit our venues and the people of Reading.

“The Abbey Quarter, which garnered a wonderful £80.5K in funding, will help us to safeguard the future of the Abbey Ruins, one of Reading’s most important heritage sites. This support package will form a vital lifeline in ensuring Reading’s Abbey Quarter continues to provide pleasure, education and recreation for our community and visitors to the town.”



Reading Arts and Venues Funding

Reading Council’s Arts and Venues includes three main arts venues in Reading: The Hexagon, South Street Arts Centre and the Concert Hall. This funding covers The Hexagon and South Street Arts Centre and will also include Reading Museum.

Reading Arts is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country being offered this urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England.

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Reading Abbey Quarter Funding

Reading Abbey Quarter is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive a lifesaving financial boost from the government thanks to the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The chosen organisations, including Reading Abbey Quarter, will share £103 million, including help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.

With the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic, more stringent measures are needed for event planning and risk assessing, a boost of £80,500 funding will give the Council the opportunity to look at delivering event and heritage activities in the Abbey Quarter safely and appropriately.

In order to be able to deliver any event activity at this time the Council needs to ensure it can supply additional infrastructure and staffing, and that control measures and procedures are put in place to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 in Reading.

The Council will be adapting practices and learning from the upcoming events over the next 6 months into next year and the wider programming of the Abbey Quarter site. This will include:

•        streaming and broadcasting events and activities from Reading Abbey online;

•        developing more ticketed and controlled access for certain activities;

•        developing new systems to control the movement and flow of people around the site;

•        event activity to ensure safety whilst engaging larger and new audiences.

This will help the Council be more resilient and respond to the needs of its community so everyone is able to engage and access local cultural events in a safe manner.

This vital funding is from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage and the Heritage Stimulus Fund – funded by Government and administered at arms-length by Historic England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Both funds are part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “As a nation it is essential that we preserve our heritage and celebrate and learn from our past. This massive support package will protect our shared heritage for future generations, save jobs and help us prepare for a cultural bounceback post covid.”

Lucy Worsley, Chief Curator, Historic Royal Palaces, said: “There’s no truer way to experience the past than to walk in the footsteps of those who have lived it – that’s why preserving our built heritage is so important.

“At Historic Royal Palaces, we care for six nationally significant buildings, opening them to the public and preserving them for future generations. Sadly, the pandemic meant that we had to stop some of our critical conservation work. The grant we have received from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable to this work to resume – so we can give some of Britain’s most historic buildings the care and attention they deserve, while supporting the specialist craftspeople who are vital for the future of our national heritage.  We are enormously grateful to the Government for this support.”

Duncan Wilson, Historic England’s Chief Executive said: “It is heartening to see grants, both large and small, from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund helping heritage sites and organisations across the country which have been hit hard by the effects of Covid-19. These grants range from giving skilled craft workers the chance to keep their trades alive to helping heritage organisations pay the bills, and to kick-starting repair works at our best-loved historic sites. The funding is an essential lifeline for our heritage and the people who work tirelessly to conserve it for us all, so that we can hand it on to future generations.”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of the National Lottery Heritage Fund said:

“It is absolutely right that investing in heritage should be a priority during this crisis and this support by Government is crucial.  Heritage creates jobs and economic prosperity, is a major driver for tourism and makes our towns, cities, and rural areas better places to live.  All of this is so important for our wellbeing and will be particularly vital when we start to emerge from this incredibly difficult time.

“Our heritage is still facing a perilous future – we are not out of the woods yet.  But this hugely welcome funding from Government, and the money we continue to invest from the National Lottery, has undoubtedly stopped heritage and the organisations that care for it being permanently lost.”

Kate Mavor, Chief Executive of English Heritage, said: “This support for our nation’s heritage is fantastic news.  Over the last few months, our teams have been working hard to welcome visitors back safely to the great castles, stone circles, abbeys and historic houses in our care. This funding will help us invest to safeguard the historic fabric of these much-loved places, which everyone can learn from and enjoy.”

For more information: 

Victoria Nickless

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