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Staff at Corn Hall ‘over the moon’ vital Culture Recovery Fund cash secured

The Corn Hall has been handed an essential lifeline after securing government funding that promises to see the venue through until spring next year.

The arts venue in St Nicholas Street has received £54,950 of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), after months of tirelessly urging Westminster to offer financial support, as the pandemic continues to wipe out cultural and creative organisations across the country.

Speaking only hours after receiving word that the venue had secured the cash, operations manager Lee Johnson expressed his joy at the decision.

The Corn Hall Operations Manager Lee Johnson said staff were "over the moon" after securing part of the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.
The Corn Hall Operations Manager Lee Johnson said staff were "over the moon" after securing part of the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

“I’m really happy, and the staff here are over the moon,” said the 42-year-old.

“I think I’ll finally be able to get some sleep tonight. Over the last few months, I’ve had a lot of sleepless nights worrying about this place and how we would keep going.

“What this means for us is that we will be able to get on a good footing to review our business.

“We are still in a vulnerable position financially, but this gives us a lifeline to see us through the winter, and helps us plan how we can become a business that can operate during coronavirus.”

The six-figure sum is enough to prop-up the Corn Hall until at least the end of March 2021, with Mr Johnson adding that, had they not received the funding, staff redundancies would have been a very real possibility.

“I think we would have had a serious discussion about how we function as an organisation moving forward,” he said.

“The last thing anyone wants is staff redundancies, but I don’t think we would have been able to take that off the table.”

The Corn Hall is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country to have successfully received the funding, after having to submit a lengthy and comprehensive application outlining exactly why it needed it.

“The fund opened in mid-August, and we had a tight window of time to submit our application,” said Mr Johnson.

“Some people might think that this money is a given, but we have had to work really hard to get it.

“It was a real joint effort putting the application together, and we had to really prove our worth – we had to outline what we do, our outreach and how we benefit the local community.”

The much-needed Government funding – administered by Arts Council England (Ace) – was announced on Monday as part of the first round of the CRF grants programme.

Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Ace 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.”

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