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Friday, April 16, 2021
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£2.6million boost for Shropshire organisations from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund

Funding of £2,617,499 has been awarded through the Arts Council to support 26 organisations in Shropshire as part of today’s announcement of further funding through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Get Your Wigle On, Shrewsbury Folk Festival, Theatre Severn, Arts Alive, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and The Hive in Shrewsbury are six of the local organisations to benefit from the funding announced today.

Get Your Wigle On

Get Your Wigle On in Shrewsbury has received a grant of £142,000 to help the Theatre Company recover and reopen. 

Get Your Wigle On pictured July 2019
Get Your Wigle On pictured July 2019
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The funding will be used to make improvements to their current dance, drama and music studio that is situated in the heart of Shrewsbury’s town centre. These funds will also go towards a variety of musical summer projects. A streamed musical theatre concert and filmed version of the musical Annie will kickstart their summer season. This will be followed by a return to live performances at Theatre Severn from June with productions of We Will Rock You, Moana and more!  

Company director Ross Wigley, said: “This funding has given us a huge lifeline and will provide us with an opportunity to return to a pre-covid standard of productions. We are thrilled to have been successful and look forward to using this funding to further improve our facilities and provide fantastic opportunities for all of our members. We will also be able to invest in equipment that will expand our current offerings. This funding has secured the future of our fabulous theatre company meaning we will be able to welcome lots of new members who will also benefit from this investment for years to come. We look forward to reopening our doors and returning to the stage.”

Shrewsbury Folk Festival

Shrewsbury Folk Festival has received a grant of £45,256 to help organisers plan and deliver its four-day event this August Bank Holiday weekend. 

Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Photo: Drone Rangers
Shrewsbury Folk Festival. Photo: Drone Rangers

The 2021 festival will take place at the West Midlands Showground from August 27 to 30 with headliners including Judy Collins, globally acclaimed Galician piper Carlos Núñez, Lindisfarne, Show of Hands and Oysterband. Tickets are selling well with a surge in sales following the announcement of the Government’s roadmap out of lockdown earlier this month.

Festival Director Sandra Surtees said the funding was “incredibly welcome” as the festival had been through a long period with no income.

“This is the second grant we’ve received and having this financial support has enabled us to continue working to plan a fantastic return this summer. We want to make sure that we put on the usual high quality festival that we’ve built our reputation on whilst incorporating any covid-safe measures required.

“Having these grants has been key to securing a more sustainable future for the festival and we’re very grateful. Our ticket sales reflect the positivity people are feeling about getting back to events and we’re looking forward to putting on one hell of a celebration in August!”

Theatre Severn

Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury has received a grant of £532,978, the grant will support the theatre during a period of recovery in the months ahead and will enable the venue to pursue plans for an exciting summer season of events for all ages, including outdoor events at Shrewsbury Castle and participatory activities for children and young people.

Theatre Severn's Auditorium
Theatre Severn’s Auditorium

In line with the UK Government Roadmap, Theatre Severn currently plans to re-open from 17 May 2021, initially with a programme of film screenings and selected live events where appropriate social distancing and reduced capacities will be in operation until restrictions can be lifted further.

Mark Barrow, Executive Director of Place at Shropshire Council, said: “We’re thrilled to receive funding from the Culture Recovery Fund. Staff at Theatre Severn have worked tremendously hard to find new ways to bring the theatre to audiences and to support the COVID-19 support effort in the county, with the venue even recently becoming a walk-in rapid testing centre.

“Despite best efforts, theatres and the wider culture sector like so many others have been hugely impacted by the pandemic and have had revenue streams slashed. We are incredibly grateful in receiving grant funding to support the recovery of Theatre Severn and enable us to explore an exciting programme of events for people of all ages in the months ahead and give everyone something positive to look forward to.”

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust

The Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust has been awarded £1.4 million Government funding to help it get back on track after being hit hard by the pandemic, with visitor revenue down by almost £3 million last year.

Blists Hill Victorian Town, residents outside New Inn
Blists Hill Victorian Town, residents outside New Inn

The funding will allow the Trust, which runs 10 individual museums in and around the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage Site, to get back onto an even keel over the next three months as visitors are allowed to slowly return.

“The last year has been difficult for everyone, and as a tourist attraction and an independent charity, we’ve been hit hard,” said Mr Ralls, Trust Chief Executive.

“Some of our attractions have been closed for more than 12 months now, and while we have a robust recovery plan in place to ensure each of our 10 museums has a strong future, severely reduced visitor numbers over the last year have left our reserves severely depleted.

“Given that 80 per cent of our revenue comes from ticket sales and visitor spending, this funding is a lifeline and will help us replace some – but not all – of that lost income, giving us some much-needed stability.

“This financial boost is not only vital for us, but for the wider community and local tourism economy – the local hotels, cafes and B&Bs that rely on trade from our visitors to survive.”

Mr Ralls revealed that some of the money will be used to install a new lighting system at Blists Hill Victorian Town that will allow the outdoor attraction, which is running at a reduced capacity, to open for longer during the autumn and winter, with an exciting programme of evening events planned for later on in the year.

“We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

Arts Alive

Arts Alive has received a grant of just over £64K from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen. 

Arts Alive, incorporating Flicks in the Sticks, is a Rural Touring Scheme that partners with people in rural communities to organise over 1,000 high quality events each year, including cinema, live music, theatre, dance and storytelling shows in village halls and community centres to ensure that affordable arts and film is available to every person in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

Executive Director, Ian Kerry, said, “In a ‘normal’ year Arts Alive would deliver 150 live events in performance spaces across Shropshire and Herefordshire, and Flicks in the Sticks would facilitate around 1,000 film screenings across rural communities. In 2020 we delivered 11 events and Flicks in the Sticks managed to screen just 33 films. In addition to the overwhelming lack of live performance and cultural events in the last year, our annual income has significantly suffered as a direct result of the pandemic.

“Thanks to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund we are able to plan a fantastic programme of events for the months ahead, which will bring culture and performance back into the lives of rural communities in this area. It also brings a vital income stream to performers and theatre groups.

“Going forward we want to build community cohesion and resilience by creating Cultural Community hubs that support locals and combats the loneliness and isolation many have felt over the last year. The future of performance and film in the region is looking a lot brighter thanks to these grants, and we are very grateful for the support.”

The Hive

The Hive in Shrewsbury has received a grant of £30,000 which will be used to continue running its wellbeing projects across Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, as well as preparing to reopen the venue safely in Summer 2021, and programming events for the Summer season. 

Cerin Mills, The Hive CEO, said: “This grant will enable The Hive to confidently pursue plans to re-open and also present an exciting summer season of events for all ages, we’re delighted to receive funding from the Culture Recovery Fund.  

“Staff at The Hive have worked so hard over the last 12 months continuing to deliver workshops online and support children, young adults and their families, however we are really looking forward to re-opening our doors on the 1st July. This funding allows to make creative plans and be able to offer some really positive and inspiring events very soon.”

Others benefiting from the funding include:

Albert’s Shed (£252,500) supports two Grassroots Music Venues: Shed Shrewsbury and Shed Southwater (Telford) where bands ranging from emerging talent to high profile artists and cover acts perform. Albert’s Shed also hosts theatre productions and comedy and works closely with BBC Introducing in Shropshire, Shrewsbury Business Improvement District and Telford and Wrekin Council in promoting live music in Shropshire. Alongside this they work with the music department at Telford College and they employ several students from the college on a part-time basis. The funding will allow both venues to reopen and start to deliver socially distanced gigs featuring local artists.

Disability Arts in Shropshire (£35,000) a visual arts organisation who commission new work by disabled visual artists, run workshops and provide mentoring and training opportunities. The funding will allow them to continue with the Curatorial Commission Programme, support the creation of a new curatorial partner network and complete the production of Worlds Within Worlds – a series of 12 workshops for Young Disabled Artists.

Ludlow Assembly Rooms (£45,000) an arts and community centre, provides a range of creative experiences from live theatre to dance and comedy to music. In addition they live stream National Theatre productions, opera and dance performances and offer a film programme. They host a full range of community activities including drama groups for young people, life and portrait classes and a photographic group. The funding will support reopening and a return to live programming.

Upstart Projects (£19,695) run Voice, a culture magazine and platform for young people aged between 13 to 30 years old. They offer a range of services and training projects which champion and support young peoples’ voice within the arts and cultural communities. The funding will ensure Voice magazine continues, support their current online activities and allow them to re-launch the Youth Voice training programme for organisations.

Wildcard (£36,725) is a producing theatre company and creative training providers. Wildcard Studios is a rehearsal space available to theatre companies, emerging artists and creatives. The funding will enable them to restart their live cultural programming.

£800 million in grants and loans awarded

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute. 

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead. 

Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said: “Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work. 

“We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

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