City cultural leaders have given a cautious welcome to today’s national announcement on the early release of funds to help support music venues that would otherwise be facing closure by September, but say more still needs to be done.
In a letter sent to culture secretary Oliver Dowden and chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak on 8 July the council made the case on behalf of the city’s cultural venues and organisations for a total funding package for Manchester of £71.8m over the next two years.
The amount requested followed weeks and months of close discussion during lockdown with cultural organisations and venues across the city. During the talks it quickly became clear that it would not be enough just to be given a handout to keep them afloat for a few months. What was needed on top of this were additional funds to help ensure that if venues and organisations were kept afloat in the short term, they would also be able to keep going beyond next year, and plan for the future with confidence.
The two year funding request on behalf of the city was therefore split broadly in two and included an overall stabilisation package of £36m to stop venues and cultural organisations going bust and closing permanently, and a further stimulus package of £30.7m to re-ignite and boost the city-wide cultural economy over the next two years.
The total amount asked for includes £8.4m to provide immediate direct stabilisation support to fifty music venues and organisations in the city, topped up by an additional £8m over two years to provide a dedicated music stimulus package for the broader music sector in the city. Together this would provide a total of £16.4m for Manchester’s music sector to give it both the support it needs to get back up and running, and to help it forward plan confidently.
Councillor Luthfur Rahman, Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Skills, Manchester City Council, said: “It’s really straightforward. It’s no good simply throwing a life-line to music venues and cultural organisations that just keeps them treading water for the next few months. This alone is not going to help them weather the storm of uncertainty that still exists – around audiences, artists, capacity, safety measures, as well as the potential for future waves of the virus.
“Of course, the support announced so far is welcome – but let’s not kid ourselves that this problem is now solved. There’s still a long way to go yet until we reach dry land, and more support is still very much needed.”