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Arena Theatre receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund


Arena Theatre at the University of Wolverhampton has been awarded £50,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

Arena Theatre at the University of Wolverhampton is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of 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.

A National Portfolio Organisation, the Arena Theatre is funded by both Arts Council England and the University of Wolverhampton, with the venue having a long-standing reputation within the local community for providing accessible and inclusive theatre to all. Closed since Tuesday 17th March, the grant from the Culture Recovery Fund will enable the Arena Theatre to install equipment to bring a sustainable programme of online and streamed theatre to its audiences in Wolverhampton - alongside continuing to deliver its vital community engagement and development work - in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton, said: "This funding announcement is most welcome as we enter into another phase of uncertainty over the coming winter period. We are delighted to receive additional support to ensure that the Arena Theatre is able to perform its crucial role of taking artistic and creative performance into our community.  Our Performing Arts students have shown over the past few months how they have been able to adapt to providing online theatre and music performances and it's really exciting that we are now able to build on this innovation and protect our arts provision in the region and further afield."

Artistic Director, Arena Theatre, Neil Reading said: “We are excited to receive this crucial investment which will allow us to tackle the unique situation the industry finds itself in at this time. We will be installing state of the art equipment into the Arena which will allow us to return to serving our diverse audiences across the Black Country and beyond, as well as our community at the University of Wolverhampton. We will endeavour to use this funding to continue our work making theatre accessible to all and to support the breadth of creative talent in the region who are still in vital need of assistance and support."

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. 

“These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

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.”


About Arts Council England (ACE)

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 several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund and unprecedented support package of £1.57 for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at


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