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More recovery fund money for North West theatres

The government’s Culture Recovery Fund has today made a second round of grants to the nation’s arts and culture venues and companies.

The north west gets over 10 per cent – £27.1m – of the total £261.6m distributed from the government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to over 2,300 organisations. In the first round last October, just over 2,000 recipients shared over £430m.

This round of grant money is intended to help smooth the transition between the current lockdown restrictions and opening the doors to paying customers again in May and June, almost 14 months after the pandemic began.

Among the recipients are Bolton Octagon, which receives £148,500 and Oldham Coliseum, which gets £56,600 (compared to £620,00 and £243,000 respectively in round one). The Octagon’s first-round figure helped in the final stages of the theatre’s rebuild and aborted reopening following a major fund-raising campaign and lengthy, pre-Covid closure.

Other awards: Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse share almost £384,000, Liverpool’s Royal Court £340,000, Blackpool Grand £491,000, The Duke’s Lancaster £75,000, Manchester’s Contact Theatre £96,500, the Royal Northern College of Music £133,000, the Factory of Creativity (part of the Hope Mill theatre set-up) £75,000, Leeds Theatre Trust (Leeds Playhouse) £618,000 and Leeds Grand and Opera House £604,000. Other major theatres may also receive grants as Arts Council “Portfolio” – regularly funded – organisations, though such grants have not yet been announced.

Both rounds of the Culture Recovery Fund have been a lifeline for the Bolton theatre and have helped to ensure its survival. In a joint statement Octagon chief executive Roddy Gauld and artistic director Lotte Wakeham said, “The last 12 months have been a devastating time. We’ve experienced a massive loss of income and had to take very difficult decisions to ensure the theatre’s future.

“This support from the government is incredibly welcome and will help us recover and thrive again. We can’t wait to open later this year and welcome audiences back.” Details of the Octagon’s opening date is to be announced soon.

Oldham Coliseum chief executive Susan Wildman said: “This time last year we could never have envisioned that the Coliseum building would be closed for over a year. This further support from the Culture Recovery Fund is very helpful as we work towards welcoming our audiences back.”


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