Weston-super-Mare Town Council has been awarded £323,000 for the Blakehay Theatre as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

The Blakehay Theatre is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

The Blakehay Theatre is a small regional theatre which plays an important role in the landscape of the South West. The theatres uniquely diverse programme of locally produced and touring work is curated especially for our audience. Not only is the Blakehay Theatre an essential part of Weston-super-Mare Town Councils strategy, with heritage arts and culture one the 5 priority pillars, it is also essential to the North Somerset Council’s ten-year stratey for heritage arts and culture. The Blakehay Theatre is at the heart of a growing creative network in Weston which aims not only to be inclusive for all, but also actively encourage and educate our community about the importance of culture. This funding will enable the Blakehay Theatre to make adaptations to service provision and performances, without which the Blakehay Theatre would be unable to reopen. Without reopening, the theatre would be unable to stay financially viable. This funding enables physical changes to be made to the Blakehay and purchase equipment to ensure it is Covid safe, as well as make changes to the business plan which are vital during this unprecedented time.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Weston-super-Mare Town Council’s Heritage Arts and Culture Committee Chairman John Crockford-Hawley said:

“My congratulations to Town Council officers who burned the midnight oil to get this application in on time during what I know was an incredibly short preparation time. It is a life line to the Blakehay Theatre’s survival”

The Blakehay Theatre Manager Sally Heath said:

“We are absolutely thrilled for this news as not only will this help us now but it will ensure the future of the theatre.”

Weston-super-Mare Town Council Town Clerk Malcolm Nicholson said:

The Blakehay Theatre belongs to the people of Weston and through modest subsidy can showcase a wide range of dramatic and cultural arts events. We are delighted to have received this national level recognition of its value to the local community.

ACE Boilerplate for notes to editors:

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision. www.artscouncil.org.uk

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 billion for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at www.artscouncil.org.uk/covid19