A new, independent report has revealed that the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion package of emergency cultural funding during the pandemic was delivered efficiently, helping support nearly 220,000 jobs and 5,000 organisations.

Photo of of ballet in Brent, London
  • 5,000 organisations and sites supported through Culture Recovery Fund
  • Almost 220,000 jobs supported thanks to Government funding
  • Report shows cultural organisations are better placed to have a strong future thanks to the support they received

A new, independent report has revealed that the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion package of emergency cultural funding during the pandemic was delivered efficiently, helping support nearly 220,000 jobs and 5,000 organisations.

The report, from Ecorys, provides clear evidence that the Culture Recovery Fund worked, helping to safeguard important institutions, protect jobs and preserve our country’s world-class cultural offering.

It shows that the Culture Recovery Fund increased the income of supported cultural organisations by 140% during the pandemic. This helped not only to ensure their survival but to bring in audiences in new and innovative ways while organisations were closed or social distancing restrictions were in place.

It also found that, once organisations were able to reopen as normal, they often did so with a new and improved offering thanks to the support they received from the Culture Recovery Fund, which was delivered in partnership with Arts Council England, the British Film Institute, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Historic England.

The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said:

“ This report reaffirms that the Recovery Fund was money well spent. It protected our finest cultural institutions from collapse, saved countless jobs across the country and put the entire cultural sector on a stronger footing for the future.

“ As a direct result of this support, many organisations are now attracting new audiences with an improved offering, and their strengthened financial position means they are better placed to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

“ Our world-leading cultural sector is helping to drive economic growth, one of our five priorities, creating better-paid jobs and opportunity right across the country. It has a special place in our national life and I am proud that it continues to thrive under this government.”

Arts & Heritage Minister Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay said:

“ The pandemic posed an existential threat to much-loved cultural institutions right across the country, and the brilliant people who work in them showed incredible resilience in the face of those challenges. I am proud of the way the Government stood by them, taking decisive action to protect them during lockdown and to support them when restrictions eased.

“ Since the pandemic, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting many organisations which received this support – the largest ever investment in arts and culture in this country – and have been delighted to see how it has enabled theatres, museums, music venues, cinemas, galleries, heritage sites and more to bounce back and welcome people through their doors again to do the things we all love.

“ This report provides evidence of the thousands of organisations the Culture Recovery Fund saved and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supported. Everyone can be proud of the positive impact it had.”

The Culture Recovery Fund was unveiled by the then Chancellor Rishi Sunak in July 2020 as the Government took action to support our fantastic cultural sector as it dealt with the unprecedented challenges posed by the pandemic. It protected iconic national institutions like the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Shakespeare Company, cherished heritage sites like Moseley Road Baths, and smaller cultural organisations which play a vital and cherished role in communities across the country.

When the fund was introduced, organisations were in urgent need of support as their traditional income streams collapsed. The report found that the fund was delivered rapidly, and evolved as the pandemic progressed to meet ever-changing needs across the cultural sector.

More than 65% of funding was awarded to organisations outside London, and the report has found that the spending of supported organisations was 37% higher than it would have been in the absence of the programme, resulting in a total of £612 million of additional expenditure. This extra cash helped to keep the wider cultural ecosystem going while restrictions remained in place.

Cash reserves of supported organisations were also boosted by 188% compared to what they would have been in the absence of the Culture Recovery Fund, meaning that jobs were saved in the sector and organisations were brought back from the brink.

Since the pandemic, new challenges have emerged for the cultural sector, such as global inflation. This report also highlights how, thanks to the fund, recipients were better placed to meet these challenges head-on because of their improved financial positions.

The cultural sector creates jobs and drives economic growth through regeneration and the visitor economy, and the Culture Recovery Fund played a vital role in ensuring the sector can robustly deal with challenges in the future.

Arts Council England chief executive Darren Henley CBE said:

“ The Government’s Culture Recovery Fund was an unprecedented investment in the cultural life of our country.  Its support for cultural organisations across the country helped to preserve the vital infrastructure of our cultural economy, and put the sector in a stronger position to face the challenges of the post-pandemic world. We are extremely grateful for this support, which shows that the Government recognises the unique contribution that culture makes to our communities, economy and national life.”

Historic England chairman Sir Laurie Magnus said:

“ Historic places, heritage organisations and skilled craftspeople across the country were supported by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund during the darkest days of the pandemic. This funding was a lifeline, helping to save much-loved visitor attractions, thousands of jobs and the specialist skills needed to keep the wheels of heritage turning. Thanks to this support, many precious historic places can continue to offer a sense of pride, wonder and connection, both now and for generations to come.”

BFI Chair Tim Richards said:

“ As an industry we’re hugely grateful for the support provided by the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to independent cinemas during the pandemic. The funding has enabled many to continue to play their vital role within communities across the country providing jobs, a platform for diverse content and shared social experiences that are proven to be good for mental wellbeing. Despite the steady recovery we’re seeing in the sector, the wider economic climate remains exceptionally challenging to many so the need to support Britain’s world-class film culture is as important as ever.”

Chairman of National Heritage Lottery Fund Dr Simon Thurley CBE said:

“ We welcome this evaluation, which shows the massive impact of the Culture Recovery Fund in helping heritage and culture to survive. The heritage sector faced serious risks and challenges in the pandemic. We responded speedily to distribute £50 million emergency funding from National Lottery players, but the needs of the sector required significantly more funding, and the Culture Recovery Fund from DCMS was a lifeline. We were delighted to be to play a pivotal role, in partnership with Historic England, to support our precious heritage. We are proud of the speed, depth and scale of collaboration by everyone involved in mobilising support for endangered places we all love. We are pleased this report shows the positive and lasting impact of that work.”



The report was carried out by a consortium led by the research and consultancy firm Ecorys and also included Ipsos UK and BOP Consulting.

The full report can be found here


South East

Ventnor Exchange, Isle of Wight (£65,000)

The emergency funding allowed the arts venue to keep afloat during the pandemic.

South West

Strike a Light in Gloucester (£79,709)

The funding helped the dance, theatre and music organisation to continue to operate during the pandemic and helped it to put on a busy programme of events once restrictions eased.


Alexandra Park and Palace (£3,669,600)

The venue was given money to ensure it could remain active during the pandemic, when it received a record number of visitors to its park.

Emma Dagnes, Alexandra Park and Palace Charitable Trust CEO, said:

“ The Culture Recovery Fund was essential to us navigating through the pandemic.”

West Midlands

Birmingham Royal Ballet (£675,000)

The funding supported the organisation to bring back live performances by putting on quality shows for its reopening. It also helped to stage performances of The Nutcracker in Birmingham.

East Midlands

Wicksteed Charitable Trust for Wicksteed Park (£653,000)

The financial support from the Culture Recovery Fund helped the park survive the pandemic and allowed it to move forward with a new programme of events.

Oliver Wicksteed, chairman of the Wicksteed Charitable Trust, which owns the park, said:

“ We are incredibly grateful that the Government understands the importance of the park and its heritage and backed us in this way. The grant funding highlighted just how important ongoing financial support, coupled with fundraising and donations form the local community, is to help secure the long-term future of the park.”

Yorkshire and the Humber

CAST in Doncaster (£491350)

CAST received funding from the Culture Recovery Fund to support staffing, building and overhead costs.

North West

Rosehill Arts Trust in Whitehaven (£557,338)

Rosehill Theatre received support from the Culture Recovery Fund to support the provision of a core programme of performance and participation which included drive-in, socially distanced and live streamed performances. The funding also supported operational and staffing costs.

North East

Kielder Observatory (£23,000)

The grant was an invaluable investment in making sure that the observatory could open safely and be ready to welcome visitors back to the venue.

Catherine Johns, CEO at Kielder Observatory, said:

“ The Cultural Recovery Fund was incredibly valuable to us: the funding helped us think about how we diversify our programmes to reach more people, to undertake organisational development, and laid the foundations for our new business plan and strategy that positions us for growth. The team at the National Lottery Heritage Fund were very supportive and helpful through the whole process, and we will always be grateful for the confidence they had, and have, in our mission and vision.”

Published 21 April 2023