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UK government announces further details around £1.57bn package including repayable loans scheme

Loan funding in the package will not be released until December

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre
© RSC, photo by Sara Beaumont

The government has revealed more information about how it intends to spend the £1.57bn support package to help the arts.

A number of weeks ago, details were revealed for grants and schemes that were to be overseen by the Arts Council England (ACE). Now more guidance on the repayable finance schemes (in essence meaning that institutions have to pay back the money they are given) has been made public.

The new repayable loans scheme is designed to help larger organisations (described by ACE as "culturally significant"), with funding available in excess of £3 million per application (there is no upper limit for the fund). There will be a payment term of up to 20 years, an initial repayment holiday of up to four years and a two per cent interest rate per annum.

Applications close on 9 September, with funding being received in December 2020. Performing arts schools will not be eligible for the loans, though for other organisations you do not have to have received any kind of public funding in the past to be eligible.

ACE will again oversee the process, alongside the British Film Institute, Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund. Third-party financial advisors will carry out rigorous financial assessments of applications.

ACE also added: "We do not expect this funding to be used to experiment, research or develop new work that is not directly essential to your organisation remaining financially viable. This funding is not intended to enhance your cultural offer but instead to allow your organisation to achieve financial sustainability (within the period up to 31 March 2022)"

Further details about the £120 million funding for capital projects have also been announced. There will be around £34 million available as part of a Programmes of Major Works grant, upgrading important heritage tourist attractions, as well as a £5 million "top up" fund for existing projects that need urgent support.

Last night, the government announced that indoor productions will be permitted with social distancing from tomorrow.

December is a long time to wait for larger bodies, many of whom have had to already make hundreds of staff members redundant and have said that they may close by the end of the year without imminent help.