The Leader of Leeds City Council and executive member for culture, Councillor Judith Blake, has responded to an announcement from government that £1.57bn will be made available to help Britain’s arts, culture and heritage industries tackle the ongoing impact of coronavirus.
Leeds has a thriving arts and culture sector from individual artists to nationally renowned museums and arts organisations and with creativity taking place in estates, classrooms and on stages. The broader creative industries provides for over 22,000 FTE jobs with a GVA contribution approaching £2bn in Leeds .
Whilst welcoming the announcement, Councillor Blake has said that more clarity and detail is needed regarding how the funding will be allocated and has urged government to consider the widest definition to ensure organisations across the country can benefit equally. Local government is the single biggest supporter of culture in the country and budgets like many other sectors have been hit hard by coronavirus. It is important, Councillor Blake believes, that local authorities which run museums and venues are themselves eligible for support, alongside the equally vital independent sector.
Councillor Blake said: “I would personally like to thank everyone in the culture sector in Leeds who have been working hard to help get this deal over the line. Whilst I therefore welcome this announcement, we are currently awaiting the finer details of the proposal to assess the type and level of funding that might be available to support our thriving arts and culture sectors in Leeds that have like many others, are being hit very hard by the challenge of coronavirus.
“For instance, I know that many cultural organisations will not be able to take on additional loans as they won’t have a way of raising the additional income for repayment. We look forward to seeing what the criteria are for the grants.
“The impact that the culture and arts sector in Leeds has on people of all ages in Leeds and the huge contribution it makes to the Leeds economy simply cannot be underestimated. This ranges across economic, social, educational and health outcomes and in addition is central to our place-based regeneration and to city-marketing. As a council we are committed to ensuring that everything is being done to support these vitally important sectors through this unprecedented time."