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Government loans 36 million to SE1 arts venues

London SE1 website team

The Government is to loan almost £36 million to three of SE1's biggest performing arts and music venues to help them through the COVID-19 crisis.

Government loans 36 million to SE1 arts venues

Of the 165 million in loans from the Culture Recovery Fund announced by culture secretary Oliver Dowden last week, nearly 36 million is to be shared by the National Theatre (19.7 million), the Southbank Centre (10.9 million) and the Bridge Theatre (5 million).

The National Theatre is reopening with a pantomime for socially distanced audiences as well as filming a new version of Romeo and Juliet for TV starring Jessie Buckley and Josh O'Connor. Last week Mr Dowden visited to see its final preparations for Dick Whittington which will be available for families to stream online for free over Christmas.

Lisa Burger, executive director and joint chief executive of the National Theatre, said of the loan: "It is a vital lifeline that will form part of our recovery, helping to ensure that the National Theatre will be here for culture and here for the nation, now and in the future.

"While the challenges of this pandemic are not over, we can now begin to rebuild the NT with a renewed commitment to make theatre for everyone that celebrates the diversity of our nation."

Elaine Bedell, chief executive of the Southbank Centre, said: "We lost 25 million of our income this year and this loan will help us stabilise our finances as we prepare to reopen all our venues safely next Spring.

"We still have challenges – but we can meet them now with creative optimism and look forward to rebuilding our ambitious artistic programme.

"We're acutely aware that this loan is taxpayers' money and we must be sure that we deliver value back to all the communities we serve, in London and across the UK.

"We can't wait to throw open our doors once more and welcome back our much-missed audiences and visitors."

Nicholas Hynter, co-founder of London Theatre Company and The Bridge Theatre, said: "The grants made already this autumn by the Culture Recovery Fund have been an essential intervention in the crisis that has befallen the performing arts.

"The announcement of the CRF Repayable Finance Scheme is a further vital infusion of cash into a sector struck hardest by Covid, and we are very grateful to be included amongst these loans.

"We're determined to do all we can to generate employment for the freelance community and joy for audiences.

"People are going to need ever more the stimulation of live performance and we're determined to make our contribution as energetically as we can."

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