The second major round of the £1.57 billon culture recovery fund has been announced

Over 1300 arts organisations are benefitting from a share of £257 million as part of a vital financial boost from the government’s £1.57 billion culture recovery fund

Announced today (12th October), it’s the fund’s second major tranche - following £103 million for 445 heritage organisations including Manchester venues like Elizabeth Gaskell's House - and is aimed at theatres, galleries, performance groups, arts organisations and cultural venues that applied for grants of under £1 million.

Greater Manchester recipients reflect the full spectrum; from music venues like Gorilla and Band on the Wall to festivals like bluedot and galleries like The Whitworth. Theatres include Contact and Oldham Coliseum, while arts institutions span Manchester Art Fair to the Circus House - you can find the full list at the bottom of this article.

2020 08 21 Manchester Skyline
Greater Manchester is the second largest cluster of creative industries outside London and the South East

Designed to help beneficiaries ‘face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and ensure they have a sustainable future,’ the money will be distributed by Arts Council England (ACE) on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The allocation of millions more pounds worth of culture recovery funding is to be announced over the coming weeks. 

While a blow to those who were unsuccessful - including, controversially, Frog & Bucket comedy club; something Lucy Powell MP will be contesting 'urgently' - today’s announcement will be a huge relief to many. 

Nevertheless, for many in the arts, funding has been too little too late. The £1.57 billion rescue fund was announced on 5th July, over three months after performance venues were forced to close their doors. Already the Music Venue Trust had saved 140 venues from closure, the Royal Exchange had announced redundancy talks and - wrote cultural lead councillor Luthfur Rahman in an impassioned open letter (resent a fortnight later) - organisations citywide were ‘coming closer and closer to their final curtain,’ a scenario echoed across the country.

With distribution far from instantaneous, cultural venues have continued to struggle. Later in July saw operator Mission Mars reveal it would be closing two beloved Manchester music institutions (fortunately they were rescued by Tokyo Industries) and Band on the Wall reveal it would be making 26 staff redundant and closing for its planned renovation earlier than originally intended; such events prompted £3.36 million (part of the rescue fund) to be issued urgently to music venues but yet again it was far too close a call.   

The DCMS and ACE are amongst several bodies to support the crippled arts economy - including the National Lottery Heritage Fund plus a range of trusts, foundations and sector bodies like Greater Manchester Combined Authority - providing support packages, grants, commissions and schemes. But, with entertainment still only at stage four of the ‘reopening roadmap’ (socially distanced performances) and no indication of when full opening will be possible, the sector remains in dangerous limbo.

2020 07 17 Deaf Institute Witch Fever Debbie Ellis
It's been a close call for venues like The Deaf Institute Debbie Ellis

Many venues, for whom social distancing is not economically feasible, remain closed, while those opening are taking huge hits to profits - something HOME highlights in its empty seat campaign. Unsurprisingly the Royal Exchange, despite recent interventions, has indeed had to make a swathe of staff redundant…and it’s not the only one. 

From drive-in shows to online streaming and even theatres hosting court cases, the industry has tried to adapt but - with furlough ending in October and chancellor Rishi Sunak’s ‘viable jobs’ scheme appearing to leave behind those in sectors such as arts and the night-time industry - fears for its survival abound. 

Other sticking points in the government’s winter economy plan include relatively little support for the self-employed, something highlighted via campaigns such as Light it in Red/#WeMakeEvents and Let Music Live. Freelance staff number around 70% of the wider entertainment supply chain (also including festivals, other events, film and TV) and related sectors such as nightlife have yet to open altogether.  

The long-awaited distribution of the culture recovery fund is a start; whether the necessary sustained, inclusive support is forthcoming remains to be seen.  

Culture Recovery Fund: Greater Manchester recipients announced today

Arts at the Mill CIC

Bank Top Industries Ltd

Beat Bazaar Projects Ltd

Bloom Leisure Ltd

Bolton Party Ltd

Brighter Sound

Buy Art Fair Ltd (now known as Manchester Art Fair)

Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art

Chetham's Library

Creative Tourist Limited

Cruz 101

Deaf Institute

Dirty Rascals Ltd

Discover the Bluedot Ltd

Eagle Bar Manchester

Future Everything CIC

Global Grooves


Greater Manchester Arts Centre Ltd (HOME)

Halle Concerts Society

HDI Dance Camps Ltd

Hey! Manchester

Inner City Music Ltd (Band on the Wall)

Lamp Oil Ltd


LipService Theatre

Rising Moon Theatre

Mackinnon & Saunders Ltd

Manchester Camerata Limited

Manchester City Galleries

Manchester Collective

Manchester Craft And Design

Manchester Jazz Festival

Manchester Literature Festival

Manchester Museum

Manchester Young People's Theatre trading as Contact

Matt and Phreds Mcr Ltd

Mission Mars

National Football Museum

NAVentures Limited

NK Theatre Arts

Northern Hospitality MCR Ltd

Off The UK

Oldham Coliseum Theatre

Partisan Collective

Plain View Production Ltd

Proud and Loud Arts

Redriff Ltd

Reform Radio

SBS Audio Visual

Soup Kitchen

Spring Markets Limited

Stockport Plaza Trust

The Audience Agency

The Big Tiny

The Circus House

The Edge

The Factory of Creativity (Hope Mill Theatre)

The Met

The Star & Garter

The Stoller Hall

The Whitworth, University of Manchester


University Of Manchester Students' Union

Venture Arts

Wigan Leisure & Culture Trust

Wordsmith MCR


Overall Greater Manchester received £13.4 million and the North West £58.9 million. Full data, including amounts allocated, here

Read more: Manchester performing arts - What’s reopening when?