Birmingham Hippodrome is delighted to confirm it has received an offer of £3m from the Cultural Recovery Fund and thanks Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and Arts Council England (ACE) for providing a welcome lifeline for the independent charity until the end of March 2021.
The financial support from DCMS and ACE is of critical importance to allow the city centre-based organisation – which receives no regular public funding and relies almost solely on ticket sales for financial viability and to underpin its charitable work- – to continue on its path to recovery following the devastation that the global crisis has had on the arts and entertainment industries.
Fiona Allan, Artistic Director and CEO of Birmingham Hippodrome, said: “We are extremely grateful to the DCMS and ACE for offering us £3m from the Cultural Recovery Fund. We are now able to take cautious steps towards plans that can help secure our long-term future.
“Over the last few months, it has been difficult to envisage what the future of Birmingham Hippodrome would be. We can now explore how we can offer more public engagement including socially distanced performances, educational activity and implement crucial infrastructure to support COVID safety measures.”
As home to the largest dance hub outside of London, the funding will also allow Birmingham Hippodrome to reopen its dances spaces, which also closed to its resident companies DanceXchange, OneDanceUK, UK Dance Consortium and Birmingham Royal Ballet, in March.
Fiona continued: “When we closed our building in March, it was not just the wonderful programme of world-class productions we lost, it was the ability to continue our outreach work and support to our incredibly talented Associate Artists and Resident Companies.
“We are beyond thrilled that our dance and rehearsal studios will now be reanimated. Being unable to use these areas has been a significant blow to the independent dance sector and now we have the financial means to reopen these spaces, we look forward to returning to being a cultural and creative hub in the heart of our city.”
Birmingham Hippodrome is one of 35 major cultural organisations receiving the first grants between £1 and £3 million through the Culture Recovery Fund – with £75 million of investment announced today.
This follows £334 million awarded earlier in the month to nearly 2,000 organisations, also from the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.
Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: “We’re delighted that Birmingham Hippodrome, has been successful thought the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. The theatre is a cornerstone of Birmingham’s cultural offer and this grant will offer them some short-term security and the opportunity to plan for the future. From touring West End shows to hosting the region’s best dance groups, The Hippodrome plays a crucial role in bringing the best in theatre and performance to the region.
“The Government’s package is hugely welcome, providing much of the sector with resources to remain in business through to the Spring. Well-loved community projects, theatres, galleries, museums, clubs, music venues, festivals, key cultural suppliers along with other creative spaces and projects have benefited, and their communities will feel a boost as a result. At a time where many communities and organisations face difficult challenges, this is a chance to continue on the road to recovery, post-Covid.”
When hit with the challenges of COVID-19 and unable to open for live performance in a commercially viable way, the Birmingham Hippodrome team looked laterally to how to continue to provide a high-quality cultural experience for the people of our region. The result has been the recent UK Premiere of Van Gogh Alive, an immersive art experience which takes place in a reimagined and repurposed Hippodrome auditorium.
Glenn Howells, Chair of Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre Trust said: “There is no denying it has been a difficult year, one of the most challenging in Birmingham Hippodrome’s 121 years. But we have a long and proud history of adapting and evolving to ensure we can still deliver our civic role to Birmingham and the region.
“Our resilience has been most recently demonstrated by opening Van Gogh Alive in early October, transforming our theatre and cleverly adapting our stage to allow audiences back into the building , and to bring some of our staff back to work after undertaking a major redundancy programme. By looking for alternative ways to bring the building to life, we hope to play a role in in the survival of local hospitality businesses that rely heavily on Birmingham Hippodrome to bring footfall into the area.”
Glenn added: “I would also like to recognise the efforts of our staff, our volunteers and our loyal audiences who have supported us on this journey, and now, with their continued support and this vital funding from DCMS and ACE, we can make plans to secure the Hippodrome’s future.”