THEATRES, music venues and museums left fighting for survival in the face of ongoing coronavirus restrictions, have received hundreds of thousands of pounds in emergency aid.

The Oxford Playhouse, Old Fire Station and The Bullingdon are among Oxford venues to benefit from a slice of the Government’s £1.6 billion Culture Recovery Fund, which has been welcomed as "an incredible lifeline" for recovery.

A total of £257m “to save” 1,385 cultural organisations across England has been announced, with larger grants to be disclosed in the coming days.

The Playhouse, in Beaumont Street, which is suffering a massive cash shortfall after having to axe its entire programme and close, received £458,000.

Director Louise Chantal said: "This funding enables us to retain our hugely talented and experienced staff and support the amazing range of freelance artists and professionals with whom we work.

"We know that the theatre contributes over £13m to the local economy every year, both directly and indirectly, so this is a wise investment in the economic and cultural future of Oxford."

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To bridge the gap until it is allowed to stage live theatre, the venue has turned its auditorium into a lecture theatre for Oxford University's Saïd Business School and on Saturday launched a socially-distanced comedy night – welcoming its first audience since March.

Ms Chantal added: "We will now be able to continue our extensive participation programmes in schools and the community while we work work towards fully re-opening next year.

"We’re still not out of the woods financially, but there’s a chink of sunlight."

Oxford Mail:

Louise Chantal at Oxford Playhouse

The Bullingdon music venue in Cowley Road gets over £212,000, while Modern Art Oxford and The Story Museum, both in Pembroke Street, get £91,000 and £170,000 respectively. East Oxford-based community arts charity Fusion Arts gets £86,000. Chipping Norton Theatre received £144,000.

Arts at the Old Fire Station in George Street received over £96,000. The venue is also an important base for the charity Crisis, working with homeless people.

Director Jeremy Spafford said: “We are over the moon to receive this funding.

"The Old Fire Station is a unique centre for creativity, with our theatre, gallery, shop and studios running a lively and vibrant programme of all different kinds of artistic work, which is woven in amongst all of the amazing work Crisis does to support people experiencing homelessness in the building we share together.

"Our organisation’s work has become a way for people from all walks of life in this community to find solace, joy, and connection during good times and bad.

"It is needed now more than ever, and the Old Fire Station can play a significant role in Oxford’s recovery from this crisis.

Oxford Mail:

The Old Fire Station

"Our city is known for its beautiful architecture and world class university, but the wealth gap here is significant: 12 neighbourhoods in Oxford are amongst the 20 per cent most deprived areas in England.

"Oxford needs the Old Fire Station because it is about openness, inclusion, looking forward and different thinking. It acts as a bridge between sectors, organisations and people.

"We are here to produce and present work across art forms, help people to be creative, support artists, include people who are facing tough times because of disadvantage, and work with communities across Oxford.

"In everything we do, we need to consider how it helps us to face the climate emergency, unlearn discrimination, be human friendly, experiment, listen and build financial resilience.

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"We’re reflecting deeply and thinking on our feet, seeing what work needs to be done, and securing our place in Oxford. This funding is an incredible lifeline to secure our recovery. Our hope now is that the community and our friends will stick by us to make sure we have a long future making Oxford a better place for everyone.”

Giffords Circus, a traditional, family run, village green circus which stages summer shows around Oxfordshire, received £240,000 allowing it to continue to trade to the opening of its 2021 season in April.

The circus makes its costumes, paints its own sets and trains its own horses.

The aid package was developed and administered by the Arts Council, with nearly 90 per cent coming from the National Lottery.

Its chairman, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages.

"This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Oxford Mail:

The Bullingdon

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

The announcement comes after Rishi Sunak was accused of an “incredibly insulting” attitude towards the arts by frustrated workers currently unable to earn an income.

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The Chancellor was criticised last week when, during an interview about the effect of the pandemic on people working in the arts, he spoke about the need to “adapt” and suggested there would be “fresh and new opportunities” available for those who could not do their old jobs.

But Mr Sunak has denied he was suggesting people in the struggling creative industries should retrain and find other jobs after coronavirus left them unable to work.

According to Arts Council England, the arts and culture industry contributes more than £10 billion a year to the UK economy, with £3 spent on food, drink, accommodation and travel for every £1 spent on theatre tickets.