They did it! Congratulations to the senior leadership team at Cheltenham Playhouse for securing £54,700, the full amount applied for, from the Government's Culture Recovery Fund. This is fantastic news that helps safeguard the future of one of Cheltenham's most precious cultural assets.
You may remember the disappointment last year on learning that the Playhouse missed out on the first round, despite a total of £2.4m going, entirely deservedly, to the Festivals, Everyman and Cheltenham Trust.
I shared that disappointment. It was my own experience of attending Playhouse theatre workshops as a teenager that helped instil a lifelong interest in the theatre. I want others to have that opportunity.
So since then, the Playhouse leadership have been truly amazing in working with me to lobby DCMS and Arts Council England to secure this grant. Countless phone calls, meetings with the minister and ACE and a vast amount of effort have gone into getting us to this point. It has been a long slog, and I pay tribute to all those involved.
The funding is part of a further £400m in support being funnelled to over 2,700 organisations across England, to help cultural and heritage organisations reopen and thrive in the future.
Cheltenham has once again done particularly well, with local groups receiving funding of over £1.6m. I have been particularly determined to help protect those working behind the scenes, so I am delighted that significant support has also gone to those supplying critical lighting and sound equipment.
It’s all part of a total package of Government COVID support for Cheltenham that now totals nearly £330m – a staggering sum that is helping us weather the storm.
As the lockdown restrictions gradually ease, we look forward to our cultural assets blossoming once again. Culture is not just a ‘nice to have’ - it’s part of what it means to be human.
I’m pleased, and relieved, it is being supported through these difficult times.