Hackney and Islington arts venues “grateful” for government funding lifeline

A crowd funder for the Hackney Empire which has been awarded more than £500,000 from the Government'

A crowd funder for the Hackney Empire which has been awarded more than £500,000 from the Government's cultural recovery fund Picture: Hackney Empire - Credit: Hackney Empire

Theatres, museums and arts organisations across the boroughs are breathing a sigh of relief after successfully applying for the Cultural Recovery Fund to help during the pandemic

Kings Head Theatre in Upper Street has been awarded £245,000 from the government's Cultural Recovery

Kings Head Theatre in Upper Street has been awarded £245,000 from the government's Cultural Recovery Fund - Credit: Archant

Theatres, museums, music and arts venues across Hackney and Islington are breathing a sigh of relief after being thrown a lifeline from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

The Almeida, Little Angel puppet theatre, Angel Comedy, The Old Red Lion, The Hackney Empire, The Kings Head, Arcola, Pleasance and Hoxton Hall were among 1,385 arts and culture organisations nationwide to successfully apply for the first round of emergency cash, which was handed out via The Arts Council.

Live music venues awarded funds to stay afloat during the pandemic included The Macbeth, Lexington, Union Chapel, Islington Assembly, Grow Hackney and Paper Dress Vintage.

While 45 North based in Hackney Downs studios which develops and produces work by female-identifying and non-binary artists and Dalston-based arts and health charity Studio Upstairs which supports people with mental health needs within artistic therapeutic communities also gained government support.

The new mural at The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington.

The new mural at The Bill Murray comedy pub in Islington. - Credit: Archant

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Jo Hemmant and Yamin Choudhury of Hackney Empire said the £585,064 would help them support the community, audiences, young people and all those who make arts and culture happen.

“The challenges of the future remain unknown. We feel it is our responsibility as a sector to ensure that we are always learning, always improving and always working harder to represent and reach out to the unheard and the unengaged.

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“With this funding we must guarantee that the transformative power of the arts can be experienced by the many; to share, to entertain, to inform and to educate.”

Kennedy Bloomer artistic director of fringe pub theatre The Hope in Upper Street said: “We’re immensely overjoyed to be receiving the funding. The Hope Theatre will be able to continue as a venue and create opportunities for artists and we couldn’t be more thrilled.”

And the Kings Head’s Executive Director, Fiona English said the £245,000 was a “hugely significant much-needed lifeline”

“We want to thank our incredible audiences, for their unwavering kindness and generosity. We have now passed 1,000 individual donations since we closed our doors in March and reached out to our community to help save the King’s Head Theatre which has served both its local and the larger creative community for 50 years. We are now planning and progressing with renewed optimism, and look forward to welcoming you back to the Kings Head as soon as safely possible.”

Arcola Theatre Executive Director, Ben Todd, said the £296,160 would help them to reopen after “a period of hibernation”.

“As part of our application, we submitted our plan for safely reopening and welcoming audiences back to Arcola. Today’s announcement is a vital step towards delivering that plan - and we can’t wait to share it with our audiences soon. Since April the building has been closed to the public and almost the entire staff have been furloughed. The support we’ve received from our community during this time has been amazing - thank you so much to all who contributed to our appeal and continue to help.”

But Jez Bond artistic director at Park Theatre in Finsbury Park said the £250,000 would help them survive until it was safe to reopen.

“The very essence of theatre is gathering people together in the same room for a live, shared experience – and the economics of venues at our scale, mean that it’s not financially viable to produce shows with social distancing in place. This money, will enable us to prepare our building so it’s ‘Covid-secure’, and subsidise us to present smaller scale work until we can reopen fully. It also allows us to offer the space for the development of diverse, new work – to support freelance practitioners who have slipped through the net in terms of support packages.”

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