Image Gradient
BOP Consulting Logo | HomeButton
image gradient

Download Project Report

VIEW PDF

England’s cultural leaders have had late nights over the last week, as they attempt to clamber aboard the sturdiest life raft yet to appear in the stormy COVID-19 seas. Applications closed today for the first round of Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund Grants. That will see grants being made for the first £500 million from the UK Governments £1.57 billion cultural sector Covid-19 bailout. A further scheme for loans of over £3 million for large organisations follows shortly.


The UK was lagging behind other countries in putting money behind the recovery of the cultural sector. So congratulations to the Arts Council on moving quickly after the Government announcement.


Three things struck us:


  • ACE have kept things as simple as possible but inevitably, with this amount of public money, there are some serious hoops to jump through. It throws into sharp relief the perennial problem of aligning funders and fundees concerns. Trying to produce a budget profiling template that can fit everything from a one-man-band (perhaps literally, if he had pursued one of nine forms of incorporation deemed eligible!) through to the Royal Opera House is going to cause headaches for everyone. And the irony of a sector of ardent remainers struggling through 500 words of guidance on EU State Aids, eight months after Brexit, wasn’t lost on us. But it will be worth it in the end, for the successful at least.

  • So who will get the grants? The criteria seem to revive that hoary old arts world chestnut of access versus excellence, with organisations asked to justify themselves in terms of either “national and international significance” or “promoting cultural opportunity”. It’s perhaps not quite as stark as that, as organisations can, if they like, respond to both criteria. But in a world where many cultural organisations frame their activities in a more holistic way than this either/or suggests, it will be interesting to see how organisations describe the relationship of their work to their audiences.

  • And where will the money finally end up? A common criticism of the the £1.57 bailout was that it was only for organisations, when so much of the cultural sector is made up of individuals and freelancers. It didn’t, people claimed, respond to the realities of the cultural ecosystem. So it is interesting to see that the guidance explicitly allows claims for “essential business expenditure, such as staff salaries, freelance employment and fixed/operational costs”. We are about to see an illustration of the underlying structure of the creative economy. How much of the cultural recovery fund will end up in the deserving hands of freelancers? And if these freelancers are part of organisations’ absolute bedrock, barely-keeping-the-wolf-from-the-door expenditure, might there be a more secure and sustainable way to structure their employment?


Good luck to all the applicants. We don’t envy the judgements of Solomon required over the next few weeks. Many will be disappointed. Even £500 million is only a small part of the solutions to such a huge challenge.

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

Aug 21, 2020

Green Cities helping climate change through culture and sustainability

Nov 4, 2021

How are major cities around the world responding to climate change through cultural policies and programmes?

The Green World Cities of Tomorrow: Culture and Sustainability

Paul Owens

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Apr 22, 2021

5 Priorities for World Cities in the post-covid recovery period

Culture and the Climate Emergency

Paul Owens

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Dec 4, 2020

Culture can play an important role in recovery and renewal across the UK, if the right local decision-making is put in place

Culture and the Recovery: Levelling Up Culture?

Callum Lee

Central London’s celebrated

Sep 23, 2020

This focused, coordinated set of measures can not only rescue the sector, but position it to lead the recovery

Central London’s celebrated cultural offer is in peril

Jonathan Todd

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Aug 21, 2020

Three big questions as applications close for Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #3

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Jul 30, 2020

The UK’s £1.57 billion recovery package: priorities for a New Deal

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #2

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Jul 20, 2020

Cities are using their unique capabilities to lead recovery and renewal

COVID-19: Cities, Culture and the 3 ‘P’s: powers, partnerships, place

Paul Owens

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Jul 7, 2020

Investing in recovery, planning for transformation

COVID-19: Government support packages for culture and creative industries #1

Paul Owens

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Jun 30, 2020

Recovery and renewal will depend on how we address the three dimensions of the crisis

COVID-19 is a triple blow to culture and the creative industries

Paul Owens

Take planning and collaboration to whole a new level.

Jun 3, 2020

In the face of radical uncertainty leaders and policy-makers will have to take planning and collaboration to whole a new level

‘Plans are useless, planning is essential’

Paul Owens

Relief, Recovery and Renewal

May 13, 2020

Nobody knows what will happen next, but we have a good idea of the three necessary steps out of the crisis

Relief, Recovery and Renewal: navigating our way to a new kind of future

Paul Owens

The Golden Thread in the 2020s

Dec 20, 2019

A cause for optimism

Weaving the Golden Thread into the 2020s

Paul Owens

Related Articles

By BOP Consulting

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director

Paul is a leading international advisor and practitioner in cultural policy and creative economy. He is Co-Founder of BOP, and alongside his fellow directors he has pioneered now well-established methods to measure the impact of cultural policy. 

Paul Owens - Founder and Director | BOP Consulting

Planning a new project?

If you are interested to learn more about our work or if you have a project you would like to discuss, get in touch.

SHARE ARTICLE
Paul Owens

Paul Owens

Co-Founder and Director