DESPITE the gloomy prospect of a second wave of coronavirus apparently taking hold, the cavalry seems to have at last arrived to save the Arts in Worcestershire.

Last week it was a much-needed lifeline for Malvern Theatres and other projects across the county. And now it’s Worcester Live’s turn, thanks to a massive cash injection from Whitehall.

But not before time. Government has, in my opinion, been slow to react to the consequences of the virus as far as the Arts are concerned.

Perhaps it is the realisation that entertainment is, by far, the greatest driving force behind local economies - and therefore general prosperity - that has been the spur.

This week, Worcester MP Robin Walker has welcomed the news that Worcester Live will receive £244,000 from the Arts Council England, as part of a vital financial boost from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.  

Worcester Live is the charitable trust which runs the Swan Theatre and Huntingdon Hall.

This was announced as part of the second round of funding and was the full amount requested by Worcester Live. This represents a huge testament to the work of the entire team at Worcester Live and will be a vital boost to support their programmes.

Mr Walker has been repeatedly calling for targeted support for Worcester Live and had taken up his concerns with Ministerial colleagues on numerous occasions during the past few months. 

Funding to Worcester Live will save jobs, support the temporary closure of Huntingdon Hall, and allow the safe re-opening of the Swan Theatre for community groups, youth workshops and partnership outreach programmes.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England, we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time.

“Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations.”

“These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”

Mr Walker said: “The announcement for Worcester Live is incredibly important due to the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the Arts.

“I very much welcome the support and I am pleased that Worcester Live will receive this significant grant from the Culture Recovery Fund. This grant will protect Worcester Live for future generations, to ensure these treasured venues have a sustainable future.”

Sarah-Jane Morgan, Chief Executive of Worcester Live, said: “I am delighted to have received the news that our application for funding from the Cultural Recovery Fund was successful. The funding is an absolute lifeline to Worcester Live Charitable Trust.

“The last seven months have been incredibly challenging for our organisation and this grant will enable us to navigate this continuing difficult time until we can see a more sustainable future in the spring.

“We will be able to use the funding to secure jobs, help with the running costs of both the Swan Theatre and Huntingdon Hall, and also run a cultural outreach project for the city of Worcester across the winter months.

“I cannot thank Robin Walker enough for all his support and campaigning on our behalf. The Worcester Live board, staff, friends, volunteers and our wider network of freelance actors and specialised creatives are utterly delighted that our future has been assured for the moment, and although this funding will not secure our future indefinitely, we are certainly looking more positively towards the future.”

John Phillpott