£100m for ‘Levelling up’ culture projects

In November the government announced that it had set aside £100m for ‘levelling up’ culture projects.

Today, following the budget speech, The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has provided more details.

Of the £100m set aside, £52.6m is provisionally budgeted for six “nationally-significant cultural investments”, which it said will allow it to “maximise the impact of culture investment within the quantum available.”

The £52.5m comprises of £15m for the National Railway Museum in York, £10m for National Museums Liverpool, £5m for National Poetry Centre and £10m for British Library North in Leeds, £2.6m for V&A Dundee and £10m Venue Cymru in Conwy, Wales.

The National Railway Museum said the £15m capital will “safeguard.. plans for the future of its estate and collections care, and inspire the next generation with the past, present and future of the railways.”

The development of cultural projects in places previously prioritised for levelling up investment, but which have not to date received levelling up funding will each receive £5m. Nine of these areas, which include High Peak, Redditch and Erewash, total a £45m allocation.

The final £2.2m will be allocated to the Shore Road Skills Centre in Northern Ireland, which had previously missed out on its application for Levelling Up funding.

An addition £10m has been allocated for Scottish cultural regeneration. The government said it will work with the Scottish cities yet to receive an allocation – Perth and Dunfermline – £5m each of cultural investment.

Investment in theatres

The budget includes £26.4m of funding for the National Theatre, which will be used to upgrade its stages and infrastructure.

The investment, the largest in the theatre’s history, has led the theatre to launch a £125m fundraising campaign Stories Start Here.

It will raise revenue and capital funds to “ensure the National Theatre, which serves 17.5m people a year, is thriving and vital, sparking imagination, nurturing talent and inspiring the world for generations to come.”

Also set aside is £1.6m for Theatr Clwyd, the largest producing theatre in Wales, to support its refurbishment, subject to business case approval.

Permanent tax relief for museums

Last March it was announced that there would be an extension of tax relief for theatres, museums and galleries, at rates of 45%-50% until 2025.

Hunt today said the Museums & Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief (MGETR), would be made permanent, with a 45% tax relief for touring productions and 40% relief for non-touring productions. Since its inception MGETR has  has supported 6,430 exhibitions of all sizes.

Maria Balshaw, Chair of the National Museum Directors’ Council and Director of Tate said the tax relief “underpins the economic and social benefit museums and galleries make to the UK economy and helps protect our world-leading creative sector.”

Andrew Lovett, Chair of the Association of Independent Museums and Chief Executive of Black Country Living Museum, said: “Our visitors and communities will ultimately benefit from this astute investment in a sector which makes significant contributions to the UK’s economy and its sense of self.”

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A said the relief has been “particularly impactful in helping to support free displays such as the Windrush 75 commemorations and a range of touring exhibitions from Tim Walker: Wonderful Things to Mary Quant, allowing us to share the power of creativity with new audiences internationally and in the UK.”

Esme Ward, Director of Manchester Museum said the Museums and Galleries Exhibition Tax Relief had “helped to unlock the wider potential of our collections, from our first international touring exhibition Golden Mummies of Egypt to collaboration and co-creation with a diverse range of communities.”

£6m for King’s Foundation pilot into heritage regeneration

Not announced in the Chancellor’s speech, but included in today’s budget is £6m for a pilot conducted with the King’s Foundation (formerly the Prince’s Foundation until 2023).

The pilot will explore how “community-led regeneration projects anchored around heritage assets and sustainability considerations can complement government’s wider place-based initiatives for levelling up, subject to business case approval. “

Extension of Jubilee Village Hall funding

Originally a £3m capital fund announced in 2022, the government is providing additional funds for the Platinum Jubilee Village Halls Fund. Originally created to improve and modernise village hall facilities ahead of the Platinum Jubilee, an additional £5m has been allocated.

Sir Keir Starmer said the budget would “give with one hand and take even more with the other”. The budget is available to read in full here.

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