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Hackney’s arts organisations get million pound boost to stave off coronavirus collapse

PUBLISHED: 16:09 09 July 2020 | UPDATED: 16:22 09 July 2020

A crowd funder for the Hackney Empire raised £40,000 in just one week. Picture: David_Monteith-Hodge

A crowd funder for the Hackney Empire raised £40,000 in just one week. Picture: David_Monteith-Hodge

Hackney Empire

Arts organisations in Hackney have been given over a million pounds from the Arts Council to stave off financial collapse over the summer.

The Hackney Empire has bagged £237,000, The Arcola Theatre has picked up £230,288 and Hoxton’s National Centre for Circus Arts in Coronet Street has been given £368,000.

Meanwhile the Museum of the Home in Kingsland Road, Hoxton, has picked up £145,000, disability arts group just down the road, Access All Areas has £40,082, The Yard Theatre in Queen’s Yard, Hackney Wick, has been given £78,402 and dance space Studio Wayne McGregor at Here East nearby has been given £170,000.

The money has come from Arts Council England’s (ACE) £33m fund to save 196 arts venues deemed to be at risk during coronavirus pandemic.

ACE made £90 million available in March for organisations in its national portfolio which are considered a key part of England’s “cultural ecology”. Since then, the government’s job retention scheme helped stave off financial collapse until the autumn for many organisations. This latest programme was aimed at venues that could demonstrate a need for urgent funding before the end of September.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Arcola Theatre welcomes government’s £25,000 grants - but warns more help will be needed

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READ MORE: Hackney Empire coronavirus crowdfunder raises over £27,000 in one day to see it through its ‘biggest challenge’ ever

Ben Todd, executive director at the Arcola in Ashwin Street, Dalston, told the Gazette it was “amazing” to get the grant.

“Covid-19 hit and we shut earlier than some venues because we didn’t feel we could keep going. We had an appeal when we closed which was incredible and people were very generous and that got us through the initial pain so we could pay artists. Then we went through the furlough retention scheme which has allowed us to keep everyone here, and now the Arts Council has stepped in with some support.

“Some people have fallen into administration and we aren’t that bad, but otherwise at the end of the furlough scheme [in October] we would have had to make the majority of staff redundant.

“This will allow us to bring some people out of furlough and take some time thinking about what can we usefully do to support the community.

“We have been in discussions with Hackney Council’s culture team about how we can help Hackney’s cultural eco-system to survive this, and secondly because this is going to be with us for a long time, how we can start looking out for the people we used to spend time supporting in a way that’s Covid secure.”

The awards are part of a £160 million emergency response package, funded by National Lottery players and government.


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