Culture Recovery Fund offers £400m in loans and capital grants

Decisions on repayable finance will be made by independent board chaired by businessman Damon Buffini
Jonathan Knott
Scarborough Museums Trust prepares to reopen. Loans can be used to buy equipment to comply with public health regulations
Scarborough Museums Trust prepares to reopen. Loans can be used to buy equipment to comply with public health regulations Scarborough Museums Trust

Details of the almost £400m available to English cultural organisations in loans and capital funding through the UK government’s emergency support package have been announced.

The funding streams come on top of the £880m that will be offered in grants by Arts Council England (ACE) through the package, which is intended to help the cultural sector survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

Organisations who need more than the £3m limit placed on these grants can apply for a loan from a £270m fund. Organisations can either apply for a grant or a loan, but not both.

The loans can be used for purposes including: paying staff or consultants; buying equipment to comply with public health regulations; essential building maintenance; and redundancy payments. There is no upper limit on the amount, but applicants are asked to bear in mind the overall £270m budget.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they are culturally significant or contributing to providing cultural opportunities in England. Museums applying must be Accredited or working towards Accreditation. Institutions directly sponsored by Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) or the Ministry of Defence cannot apply.

The government is offering the loans on generous terms, including a repayment term of up to 20 years, an initial payment holiday of up to four years and an interest rate of 2% per annum. Organisations will be able to use the loans to cover costs up to 31 March 2022.

Decisions will be made by an independent board appointed by DCMS, chaired by businessman Damon Buffini. Others on the board include arts council chair Nicholas Serota, cultural recovery commissioner Neil Mendoza and Emma Squire, the director for arts, heritage and tourism at DCMS.

Applications for the loans will be open from 21 August. The arts council will aim to let applicants know the outcome of applications in October and make the money available before December.


In addition, £120m of capital funding is being made available. ACE is offering £55m to its existing capital grant holders who have experienced delays and increased costs due to Covid-19, and Historic England is managing the £50m Heritage Stimulus Fund to restart construction and maintenance on heritage sites.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund will manage the £15m Heritage Capital Kickstart Fund, which will support up to 30 projects at risk because of the pandemic.