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Scottish Government announces £21m funding to support the culture and events sector

Many events have been cancelled and entertainment venues forced to close due to the new restrictions
Many events have been cancelled and entertainment venues forced to close due to the new restrictions

The Scottish Government has announced £21million of support for cultural and events organisations and freelancers.

The additional funds have been allocated to support those who have been impacted by cancellations due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

The government has advised that the funding is to help manage the impact of new guidelines on social distancing and crowd limits.

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson said: “Culture and events continue to be among the sectors hardest hit by Covid-19 as the emergence of a new variant is once again causing disruption and uncertainty.

“The steps we’re asking the public to take to minimise the spread of the virus are having a severe financial impact on the sector at a time when they were just beginning to recover from previous waves of the coronavirus.

“In the past few weeks, both myself and Culture Minister Jenny Gilruth have been speaking to freelancers and representatives from culture and events organisations to ensure they get immediate support to meet their needs.

“This £21 million in additional funding is vital to support culture and events organisations and protect the livelihoods of the people who work in the sector.”

Culture Secretary Angus Robertson. Photo: Lesley Martin/PA Wire.

Last week, a £100m package was announced by the government to compensate businesses affected by cancellations.

The culture and events funding is a part of this package and includes an additional £1m from existing events sector funds.

Where will the funds be allocated?

The government has announced £10.2m for cultural organisations and venues to be administered by Creative Scotland.

The public body will also be responsible for the £8m cancellation fund for reative freelancers.

Those eligible can apply for grants from the cancellation fund of between £500 and £2,000. Applications will open at 2pm on Thursday, January 6.

Iain Munro, the CEO of Creative Scotland, said: “This additional emergency funding for Scotland’s culture sector is very welcome.

“This afternoon, we’ll publish guidance about the first tranche for creative freelancers who’re experiencing immediate financial hardship due to the loss of income because of cancellations and deferrals caused by the pandemic.

“Applications will open on January 6, and will be followed by further details of how and when to apply for the emergency support for organisations.

“The Covid-19 rollercoaster seems never ending but we will work hard with the sector to pull together again and overcome the challenges that this new wave of the pandemic presents to ensure we are able to gather in cultural spaces to enjoy Scotland’s rich, diverse and world-renowned art and creativity, and to celebrate all that they bring to our lives, in so many different ways.”

‘Return and rebuild’

A total of £2.8m will go towards the wider events supply chain and will be allocated by EventScotland.

Paul Bush OBE, director of events for VisitScotland, said: “The additional £2.8m in emergency funding for Scotland’s events sector is welcome news as it deals with the latest challenges presented by the Omicron variant.

“EventScotland will work with the Scottish Government and the Event Industry Advisory Group (EIAG) to determine the best way of distributing the funding to ensure we get support to those in need, and will share further details on this in the new year.

“We will also work with them to look at future funding programmes to ensure the industry can return and rebuild when the time is right.”

Further details on fund eligibility will be made available by Creative Scotland this afternoon, while information on other funds will be released in early January.

Meanwhile, businesses in the hospitality sector which have been faced with increased cancellations may be eligible for a Business Support Top-Up Grant of £4,500 or £6,800.

Councillor Trish Robertson, chairwoman of the Highland Council economy and infrastructure committee, commented: “We are pleased to be able to assist the Scottish Government in getting this essential grant out to public houses, restaurants, cafes, other licensed premises classed as hospitality such as sports and social clubs, nightclubs, and hotels with bars and restaurants.

“As we already have the contact details for these identified businesses from a previous grant scheme we delivered, we will be writing out to these businesses and asking them to consider the criteria set by the Scottish Government, and if they consider their business fits the criteria set, to apply via the online form.”

Venues forced to close

His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen is one of the entertainment venues which will temporarily close on Boxing Day

On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a cap on numbers for public events in Scotland.

Indoor events will have a standing limit of 100 people which rises to 200 people for seated events.

All outdoor events will have a number limit of 500 spectators which will have a large impact on sporting events.

Since the new restrictions were announced, a number of entertainment venues in the north and north-east have confirmed show cancellations and closures.

Eden Court in Inverness is cancelling all panto performances from December 26, but will remain open to offer cinema and hospitality services.

Aberdeen Performing Arts will shut its three venues from Boxing Day which means the run of the Beauty and the Beast pantomime at His Majesty’s Theatre will also be cut short.