TAMWORTH Borough Council has been awarded £376,150 from the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund to help protect the future of the nation’s creative and cultural organisations.
The Department for Culture, Media & Sport has announced that Tamworth Borough Council has been successful in its bid for investment as part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants, administered by Arts Council England.
A total of £250,000 has been awarded for Tamworth Castle and a further £126,150 for Tamworth Assembly Rooms, to help the venues survive the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and beyond.
This will include improving sustainability by developing new digital audiences for both attractions and helping Tamworth Assembly Rooms prepare for a safe and viable reopening next year.
Tamworth Assembly Rooms was forced to close its doors in March in line with Government guidelines which required theatres to shut down with immediate effect. While some theatres have since been able to reopen, in the current format, Tamworth Assembly Rooms would have to restrict audience numbers to such a point that it would not be a viable operation.
Options are currently being explored as to how the 131-year-old theatre can be reopened next year in a way that is both safe and viable, and the funding will help achieve this.
Plans include installing a high-quality projector to enable live screenings, installing protective screens on bar areas and the box office, creating separate drinking areas, an app for ordering direct from tables, additional cleaning operations and the creation of an external seating area on the patio outside.
While Tamworth Castle reopened on August 1, this is at a much-reduced capacity, with limited tickets and without the events and education programmes which made up the majority of its income.
The pandemic has further magnified the need for Tamworth Castle, as the town’s sole museum and main cultural venue, to modernise the way services are provided to the community, visitors and schools.
The funding will therefore help start a process of getting the entire collection and archive available to all online. The Castle collection comprises around 40,000 items, but only 10% are currently on public display.
It will also help ensure the Castle experience meets the expectations of modern audiences, by developing new features for visitors and new digital audiences, while also fully exploring commercial opportunities to make the ancient building as resilient to future challenges as possible.
Cllr Daniel Cook, Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, said:
“The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on many aspects of our lives and livelihoods, and the same is true for our arts and cultural organisations, which are still struggling to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“In Tamworth, the pandemic meant immediately closing Tamworth Assembly Rooms and cutting back on our offering at Tamworth Castle and we’ve had to make some difficult short term decisions to get us through the next few months.
“Significant challenges still remain though and we are focusing all our efforts on how we can adapt and develop our arts and cultural offering to ensure we can protect these important Tamworth assets for the longer term.
“This funding from the Government gives us a huge boost in achieving that and making sure both Tamworth Castle and Tamworth Assembly Rooms become more resilient in the future. It will enable us to prepare for a wider reopening and looking at ways to reach new audiences both locally and nationally.”
Tamworth MP, Christopher Pincher, added:
“Our local council makes a huge contribution to our town in their administration of combined arts and museums, and I do not underestimate just how challenging recent months have been.
“I am very pleased that Tamworth will receive a boost of almost £376,150 thanks to Government funding, helping organisations to plan for their eventual reopening and getting people back through the doors.
“Our Government promised to protect lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic, and this latest support will help our vital cultural institutions to build back better after COVID-19.”
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, said:
“This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back. Through Arts Council England, we are delivering the biggest ever investment in the arts in record time. Hundreds of millions of pounds are already making their way to thousands of organisations. These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”
Chair, Arts Council England, 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.”