Grants are available for cultural organisations in England that were financially stable before the coronavirus/COVID-19 crisis but are now at imminent risk of failure.

Funding body: Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)
Maximum value: £ 3,000,000
Application deadline: 21/08/2020

The Culture Recovery Fund is part of the £1.57 billion support package for the UK’s culture and heritage sectors that was announced by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in the beginning of July 2020 in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Objectives of Fund
The funding is for culturally significant organisations which were financially sustainable before COVID-19 but are now at imminent risk of failure and have exhausted all other options for increasing their resilience.

Value Notes
Grants of between £50,000 and £3 million will be available.

A total of up to £500 million will be awarded in grants.

There will be two funding rounds, but the Arts Council expects to award 75% of the overall budget of the Fund during the first round.

Match Funding Restrictions
There is no minimum match funding requirement for this Fund.

Who Can Apply
Cultural organisations (both profit and not-for-profit) based in England can apply.

For the purpose of this Fund, “cultural” is defined as sitting within the remit of Arts Council England and therefore eligible organisations include:

  • National Portfolio Organisations, Creative People and Places lead organisations, Music Education Hub lead organisations and both Accredited museums (Full and Provisional) and museums confirmed by the Arts Council as working towards Accreditation.
  • Local Authorities, Universities and other Public Sector bodies who run or maintain cultural services.
    To be eligible organisations must be properly constituted and registered at Companies House and/or Charity Commission, and able to produce at least one year’s full independently certified or audited financial statements.


The following are not eligible for funding:

  • Individuals.
  • Heritage organisations (support provided by Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund).
  • Non-Accredited museums (except those working towards Accreditation).
  • DCMS-sponsored museums.
  • Independent cinemas (support provided through BFI).
  • Library services.
  • Costs that are eligible to be covered by other strands of Government support (eg, furloughing).
  • Operating costs beyond 31 March 2021
  • Anything that contravenes Government’s advice on COVID-19 at the point of application.
  • Significant historic debt (prior to 1 March 2020).
  • New projects/activity during a prolonged closure period that are not essential to continued operations.
  • Reflating reserves beyond the equivalent of up to eight weeks’ turnover.
  • Building/capital expenditure.
  • Covering costs/losses already supported through other sources, including any other Arts Council funding (eg, National Portfolio funding and the Arts Council’s Emergency Response Funds) and Government schemes.
  • Costs related to the promotion of the beliefs of political or faith organisations.

Eligible Expenditure
The funding will support eligible organisations over a six months period to stay afloat, so that by 31 March 2021 they can either:

  • Reopen/restart their operations, where appropriate or
  • Operate on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis, so that they are able to reopen at a later date if, for example, reopening under social distancing is not permissible or does not represent a value for money approach.

The grants can be used for the following:

  • Costs incurred between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021 that enable the organisation to remain open, reopen or partially reopen, where this represents a value for money approach and where the proposed activity is in line with Government COVID-19 guidance, and does not constitute unnecessary risks. Eligible costs include:
    • Essential business expenditure, such as staff salaries, freelance employment and fixed/operational costs.
    • Equipment to ensure compliance with social distancing and other public health requirements.
    • Any up-front costs for preparing to restart activities that will drive future income, such as performances, exhibitions and marketing.
    • Programme costs for activity that complies with Government COVID-19 guidance at the point of application.
    • Increased costs as a result of trading in accordance with Government COVID-19 guidance.
    • Redundancy pay outs where decisions have been made to reduce staff.
    • Advice from professionals, for example on risk, safety, how to support staff or on new business models.
    • Debts incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Costs to allow reduction of activity that ensure sustainability and preservation of the organisation, if that is the most cost-effective route to safeguard for the future. Eligible costs include:
      • Essential business expenditure, such as staff salaries and fixed/operational costs.
      • Protecting cultural assets by:Maintaining buildings and other assets (including collections) while closed (including environmental monitoring and conservation).
      • Stabilising collections at immediate risk.
      • Temporary storage for collections, artefacts and documents.
      • Supporting the retention of specialist skills and expertise.
      • Security to ensure buildings and sites are secure over the closure period.
      • Redundancy pay outs where decisions have been made to reduce staff.
      • Costs to prepare for reopening, including hiring staff and building working capital.
      • Debts incurred as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Costs that may prevent the need for additional, unavoidable, public investment further down the line (for example, assets which may revert from third parties to public ownership in the event of insolvency, or otherwise need saving or protecting), or a future failure to deliver any statutory duties.
  • Costs to ensure the value for money recovery of the organisation’s financial sustainability. Eligible costs include:
    • Running risk management reviews and testing any identified actions to safeguard the organisation as needed.
    • Reconfiguring business plans, governance and activity needed to help safeguard the future of the organisation.
    • Considering or implementing organisational restructures and mergers where these have been identified as the most cost-effective way of sustaining an organisation.
    • Reflating reserves up to the equivalent of up to eight weeks’ turnover.

The funding should be used during the period between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021.

How To Apply
There will be two funding rounds, which will run consecutively:

Round 1 will open for applications at 12 noon on 10 August 2020 and will close at 12 noon on 21 August 2020.
Round 2 will open for applications at 4pm on 21 August 2020 and will close at 12 noon on 4 September 2020.
Organisations can apply once to only one of these rounds.

The Arts Council expects to allocate approximately 75% of the overall budget during Round 1. Therefore, organisations are strongly encouraged to apply to Round 1, where feasible.

Applications must be submitted through the Arts Council’s online application portal Grantium. Organisations that do not have a profile on the system yet will need to set one up as soon as possible, as it can take a few days to validate profiles.

Guidelines and FAQ documents are available on the website of Arts Council England.

Useful Links
Arts Council England – Culture Recovery Fund: Grants

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