Manchester Council asks Chancellor for millions to restore city cultural life

Manchester town hall. Pic by Mark Andrew

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Paul Genty

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Two-year funding needed to save the city's culture, says councillor

Manchester City Council has asked Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak for an “immediate lifeline” of £71.8m to help the city “repair, restart and rethink” cultural life as the sector emerges from lockdown.

The figure has been calculated with the help of cultural organisations of all sizes to stabilise then stimulate the culture sector.

The figure will be needed over the next two years to kick-start a return to normal business for some organisations, with others creating a “new kind of normal”.

While welcoming the £1.5bn rescue package for culture and the arts, city leaders want to ensure that Manchester gets the money it needs to maintain and grow its position as the most-visited British city after London.

Without money over two years, says the council’s executive member for culture Councillor Luthfur Rahman, culture organisations may not be in a position to recover.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman said:  "It will not be enough simply to keep cultural organisations from bankruptcy - that will do nothing to future-proof either the sector itself, or the wider local economy and whole livelihoods, that depend on a thriving cultural scene.

"What we need is a major package to restart the cultural economy that we all know is the very life-blood of this city. A package that will enable culture to play a much-needed and vital central role in rebuilding the wider citywide economy.

"Culture is no understudy or bit-part player in Manchester. It has always been a leading light and an intrinsic part of the city's success. We need culture, and we now need urgent reassurances that the necessary cash is coming."

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