Islington arts venues welcome package of Government support

PUBLISHED: 12:38 07 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:38 07 July 2020

Upper Street's famous King's Head Theatre

Upper Street's famous King's Head Theatre


The Union Chapel, King’s Head and Park Theatres hope they can benefit from the £1.57 billion of loans and grants to support the arts sector through enforced closure

Frank Turner performing live at The Union Chapel - the rocker held a lockdown home gig to raise funds for the music venueFrank Turner performing live at The Union Chapel - the rocker held a lockdown home gig to raise funds for the music venue

Islington’s theatres and music venues have welcomed the Government announcement of a £1.57billion emergency support package to help the arts through the pandemic.

Independent cinemas, theatres, music venues, heritage sites, galleries and museums will also benefit from grants and loans to ease them through enforced closure.

However Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden warned that the return of theatre performances without social distancing remains “some way off” and he could not envisage theatres reopening in time for Christmas.

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Many venues launched their own fundraising campaigns to stay afloat.

James Seabright, Chair of Trustees for Upper Street’s King’s Head Theatre, which successfully crowdfunded £100,000, now wants firmer detail about how they can reopen safely: “In common with the whole of the arts sector we were delighted to hear that the government is delivering on their promise to financially support cultural institutions through this unprecedented period of closure. We look forward to finding out how their grants will work and hope that the King’s Head can benefit. Our priority is to reopen when it is safe to do so, and the most important thing that the government can do next is to start putting clear dates alongside its roadmap stages, so that we can start the big job of planning to welcome audiences back into our historic venue.”

The Union Chapel has just doubled it crowdfunding goal from £50K to £100,000 after loyal supporters donated £80,000 in just seven weeks.

CEO Michael Chandler said: “This is good news and it’s a credit to the arts sector, our friends at Music Venues Trust, artists and supporters for shouting about the need for support so loudly. We look forward to seeing the detail of what will be available, how it will be distributed fairly and equitably. We still don’t know how long it will be until Union Chapel can re-open safely – this is why we have extended our crowdfunder. There’s no doubt that this government package provides real hope for us, and the live music sector.”

Jez Bond, who raised more than £400,000 to ensure that Park Theatre in Finsbury Park venue can survive closure into Spring 2021, said: “We are delighted to hear the news of the rescue package for culture, recognising that our world-revered sector plays a vital role in both the economy and the welfare of the nation. We eagerly await further information on the package in the hope that it will support all those who need to weather the the next few months.”

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