Welcome Lifeline From Culture Recovery Fund For Bristol Old Vic

12 Oct 2020

Welcome funding lifeline for Bristol Old Vic. Now the work can begin, says Tom Morris.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport today announced Bristol Old Vic will receive a vital £610,466 package of financial support as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

This amount will support the historic theatre’s survival for the immediate future, after losing 75% of its income overnight in March 2020. Crucially, it will enable the organisation to plan its recovery and begin to make work once again in collaboration with the creative sector’s workforce, who have been acutely affected by the pandemic.  

The news is part of today’s announcement of the first tranche of the Culture Recovery Fund - £257m of funding for 1385 theatres, arts venues, museums and cultural organisations across the country.

Speaking today, Bristol Old Vic's Artistic Director, Tom Morris said:
“This is fantastic news for many arts organisations all over the country. For Bristol Old Vic it is transformative. Immediately, it keeps us open and prevents another devastating round of redundancies.  Beyond that, it gives us a solid platform from which we can contribute to the economic and social recovery which must follow the pandemic over the next two years."

Bristol Old Vic's Executive Director, Charlotte Geeves said; "Arts businesses all over the country can now work with Government, Arts Council,  local authorities and our own donors and supporters to raise funds so that we can invest in the creative workforce for which Britain is internationally renowned. In doing so we can support the recovery of our city and town centres with dazzling new work, and collaborate with communities all over the country in transformative creative projects."

Tom Morris continued; "The country needs its artists more than ever as we confront the bewildering force of the ongoing pandemic. The Government’s investment of £1.57bn shows a clear understanding of how much our creative industries can contribute in these uniquely challenging times. It also sets an inspiring precedent for new investment in transformative art works which can engage every community in the country and lift the hearts of all of us.”

The fund will also allow the theatre to reach a wider audience by further developing its digital offer, as a way of sharing live performance, whether from the comfort of the home or in the theatre itself.  

The online Bristol Old Vic At Home digital offer launched in April 2020 as an experiment in how the theatre could stay connected to its communities and provide creative opportunities while in isolation from each other. A series of streamed productions of some of the theatre’s best-loved work sat alongside interactive content across Bristol Old Vic’s website, available to young people, teachers, audiences and artists at the moment it was most needed. Bristol Old Vic’s artist development strand Ferment also commissioned artists through an experimental programme of live performance in the theatre’s front of house area, on its newly created Courtyard Stage, to explore what live performance could be in a socially distanced world. A blended offer of live performance mixed with streamed theatre content has meant Bristol Old Vic has been able to provide theatre in a variety of ways depending on current COVID regulations and the circumstances of each individual.

 Bristol Old Vic's Chair, Dame Liz Forgan said:
"Creative people can be inventive, agile, enterprising and brave but they can’t cope with zero income and dark theatres. This tremendous support from government gives us the time to do what we know we must: reinvent ourselves and our business for a world where nothing will be the same but where art and the work of the imagination will be more important than ever."

The Culture Recovery Fund provides a total of £1.57 billion to make sure our most loved performing arts, heritage sites, independent cinemas, music venues and museums can weather the impact of coronavirus and come back even stronger. 

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.

Press Office: 0117 949 4901 | press@bristololdvic.org.uk