Background to the report

The COVID-19 pandemic meant that museums, galleries, cinemas, music venues, nightclubs, theatres, arts centres, archives and heritage sites were required by law to close their doors on 23 March 2020, with many remaining closed for almost a year. Without targeted support, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport expected large-scale financial failures for the UK’s cultural, arts and heritage institutions.

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The Department announced its £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund in July 2020 to help these institutions survive the pandemic and to support their long-term sustainability. The fund’s primary objective is to rescue cultural and heritage organisations at risk of financial failure in the financial year 2020-21 due to COVID-19. The funding could be used, for example, to prepare business plans to cover future viability, for costs towards enabling re-opening and keeping venues in good condition and for capital projects such as conservation works. It could not be used to cover costs that could be met from other government support schemes (such as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme).

Scope of the report

This investigation examines the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), covering the period up to 19 February 2021. It presents a factual summary of government’s support for the sector; the process for awarding the CRF; progress in distributing the funding; and oversight and governance of funding.

The report covers the CRF in England only, and we have not assessed the impact of the funding as it is too early to do so. As the CRF continues to operate, our report does not represent the final position on the fund and how it has been awarded and paid out. The Department plans to evaluate the CRF later in 2021.

Read more about our work on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (12 Mar 2021)

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