Bristol Old Vic receives grant in second round of Culture Recovery Fund

2 Apr 2021

Bristol Old Vic to receive £289,971 from second round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.


  • Bristol Old Vic among more that 2,700 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards from the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.
  • Culture Recovery Fund 2 was announced to extend support to cultural organisations when we were prevented from reopening by the second lockdown in January. This award allows us to continue our programme of online and live work through April, May and June.
  • Today’s award will allow us to confirm contracts with freelance practitioners creating work for our programme in May, June and July, and to continue to plan for the full reopening which will reignite the creative economy.
  • At the core of this programme is our ongoing digital strand of work, sitting alongside and within, the live theatre programme. Further details of which will be announced next week.


Bristol Old Vic has received a grant of £298,971 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture recovery Fund to help the organization recover and reopen.

More that £300 million has been awarded to thousands for cultural organisations across the country including Bristol Old Vic in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the culture secretary said today.

Since Bristol Old Vic had to close in March 2020, the organisation has strived continuously to find new ways of sharing theatre with its community and the wider world. In that last 12 months the theatre has completely reimagined a digital version of itself, experimented with streamed performances available globally, maintained links with our most vulnerable participants and welcomed live audiences during the brief moments when restrictions were lifted.  

This has involved:

  • Launching Bristol Old Vic at Home, in Spring 2020 A digital version of our theatre bringing performance and creative opportunities directly into people’s homes.
  • Commissioning a series of experiments in digital theatre with theatre-makers from Bristol and across the UK from June.
  • Collaborating with Wise Children in Autumn 2020 To present Romantics Anonymous as a live stream from our theatre, reaching over 10,000 people in a week and a live broadcast of The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk.
  • Launching a second season of On-Demand shows to watch at home in Nov.
  • Commissioning work from emerging artists in the region through Bristol Ferment and presenting that work in a specially created Courtyard Theatre during the summer’s social distancing.
  • Creating bespoke theatre shows and virtual tours for over 56 schools in Bristol in Spring 2021 term alone.
  • Running free workshops and events to stay connected to our communities throughout the year.
  • Presenting socially distanced work in the theatre including Toby Jones: Desert Island Theatre and a series of talks for Black History Month.
  • A 2021 Spring Season including extended releases of On-Demand shows such as Owen Sheers’ Pink Mist, wild studio-style experiments such as Sharp Teeth’s Sherlock in Homes, a season of filmed dance work from Bristol company Impermanence and live online events including the digital experiment The Gathering.  


Speaking today Bristol Old Vic Artistic Director Tom Morris said:

 “This investment allows us to plan our reopening and commission some of the artists whose work will reopen our theatre. The government has grasped the economic arguments about culture, what it offers to the international reputation of our country and how much it can contribute to our economic recovery and we are very grateful for that understanding.

But this investment allows us to go further.  We can now start to ask: what are the stories we should be sharing as we rebuild our society in the wake of the pandemic?  How can story-tellers and theatre-makers help us understand who we are and how we might heal the divisions which have been deepened by the pandemic?  We need theatres for the economy.  We need them for pure entertainment.  But make no mistake, we will need artists in every artform from music to sculpture to help us understand what has happened, to reconnect and to build a better world.”


Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead. 


Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Notes to Editors

Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. Find out more at

At the Budget, the Chancellor announced the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund would be boosted with a further £300 million investment. Details of this third round of funding will be announced soon. 


Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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