Local venues celebrate ‘life-saving’ culture grants

THE Fiery Bird music venue in Woking is celebrating a life-saving award of £135,000 as part of the Government’s measures to help support the arts through the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s rescued us,” said Elaine McGinty, the chairman of the Phoenix Cultural Centre that runs the venue. “Without it we’d have run out of money and I doubt we’d have made it beyond the end of the year.

Phoenix Cultural Centre Chairman Elaine McGinty

“We have quite low overheads but even so there are still financial commitments. We would have gone under.

“It would have been desperate if everybody’s efforts, including the council’s, over the last decade had come to nothing.

The Fiery Bird music venue’s logo

“Now though those funds will be used to help get us through until the spring, help us bring live music back to Fiery Bird and secure our future into our new permanent venue.”

The money is from the early rounds of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) grants programme, which is being administered by Arts Council England.

“At the moment we’re just thinking how amazing it is to have the grant,” Elaine went on, “but we understand that we have a responsibility to use the money wisely, both in terms of our community programmes and in supporting others in the arts who don’t have direct access to funding.

“We would like to say a massive thanks to Music Venue Trust for all the support that they have given us and other venues throughout this process. They have been absolutely fantastic in keeping the pressure on and helping to secure funding. Also to our volunteers, who constantly work so hard.

“We believe that the Arts Council has recognised our vital contribution to the local arts scene and the wider community, especially with our programmes such as supported learning for adults in partnership with Guildford College.”

Woking gallery The Lightbox was another beneficiary of the CRF, receiving £64,000.

Marilyn Scott, the director of The Lightbox, said: “We are immensely grateful to Arts Council England for the award of vital funding.

The Lightbox Art Gallery was another recipient of CRF funds

“It will enable us to keep our doors open and to continue our community programmes, which are even more needed during the difficult times we are experiencing.

“Our visitors comment on how much visiting our calm, safe spaces helps their wellbeing and mental health – we are so glad we can keep on helping our community in this important way. Thank you, Arts Council England.”

Brooklands Museum in Weybridge has been granted £950,000.

The Lightbox Director Marilyn Scott

Museum director and CEO Tamalie Newbery said:We are absolutely thrilled. Brooklands is an award-winning museum and now we will be able to remain open to visitors and carry on our work preserving the Brooklands site and collection.

“As an independent charity, income from visitors has always been our main source of funds, so the COVID epidemic has been very tough.

“However, we have been delighted by the public’s response since we reopened in August and this grant means that throughout this winter and beyond, people will be able to continue coming here and discovering the inspiring stories of what people accomplished here.”

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