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Arts Council England reveals details on how to apply for Culture Recovery Fund

The details for the fund were revealed by the government last night

Shakespeare's Globe
© Tristan Surtel / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

Arts Council England (ACE) has revealed details about how artists and companies can apply for the government's Culture Recovery Fund.

The fund, revealed at the beginning of the month, will enable companies and artists to support themselves throughout the pandemic. More details were revealed last night.

At the moment, ACE is offering grants valued between a minimum of £50,000 and up to a maximum of £3 million, available to English organisations that are fulled registered at either Companies House or the Charity Commission with at least one year's full independently certified or audited financial statements.

Companies applying for grants will not then be able to apply for a separate £270 million repayable loan scheme, also announced on 5 July. Loan terms are expected to include an up to 20-year repayment, an initial repayment holiday of up to four years, and a two per cent interest rate per annum.

There will be two round of funding for grants, with the first round (where 75 per cent of the £500 million fund will be allocated) opening for applications on 10 August. The second round will open on 21 August. All applications will be processed through ACE's Grantium portal, with the company warning that "competition for funds will be very high and only those able to demonstrate genuine need should apply."

Applicants in the first round asking for under £1 million will be notified by "no later than" the end of September, while those applying for more will know by Friday 23 October 2020 at the latest. In the second round this will be 16 October for sub-£1m requests and 6 November for above £1m. ACE says it hopes that it will be able to let applicants know sooner than these cut-off dates.

ACE has said that the fund hopes to guarantee that by March 2021, successful applicants are either fully or partially reopened, or "operating on a sustainable, cost efficient basis". It aims to help support "costs incurred between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 that enable the organisation to remain open, reopen or partially reopen, where this represents a value for money approach and where the proposed activity is in line with Government Covid-19 guidance."

The guidance explicitly states that it will not cover costs beyond March 2021, or costs that can be covered by other government support schemes (including furlough). It cannot cover "significant historic debt (prior to 1 March 2020)", or reflate reserves beyond the equivalent of up to eight weeks' turnover. ACE also says it is unwilling to support "new projects/activity during a prolonged closure period that do not represent a value for money approach."

It also emphasises that applications should feature plans for the "most value for money route to sustainability", and that all applicants must consciously explain how they will "improve the diversity of their workforce, governance, audiences, visitors and participants". This will be particularly important for applications over £250,000. Factors including geographic spread and access will also be included.

Guidance in a range of alternative formats including Easyread, BSL and Large Print will be released "as soon as possible" but is not yet available. The fund does not make any mention of direct funding for freelancers, but says that "essential business expenditure, such as staff salaries, freelance employment and fixed/operational costs" are eligible for grants.

ACE added: "We'll be investing £2 million in other funds that have been set up to help freelance workers in the arts and culture community, such as technicians, stage managers, artists and performers. More information on this will follow soon."

Those who have not used ACE's Grantium portal are encouraged to sign up as soon as possible, as it may take a number of days to get this set up.

The Culture Secretary has said venues might not know until November if they can reopen without social distancing


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