Garfield Weston’s £30m arts rescue fund

A new one-off £30m Covid rescue fund for the arts has been announced today by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

With grants ranging from £100,000 to £1.5m the new Weston Culture Fund is aimed at museums, galleries, cultural centres and creative arts organisations, including regional theatres and touring dance companies, in response to the “devastating impact” of closures forced by Covid-19.

It had been intended to limit the fund to £25m, but the ceiling was increased by the foundation’s trustees “after seeing the level of creativity and determination from arts organisations who have been hit by the pandemic and are fighting hard to ‘keep the lights on’”. The foundation has received requests for help totalling more than £128m. More than 100 are to benefit from the new fund, ranging from Ballet Cymru and Chatham Historic Dockyard to the London Symphony Orchestra and the National Theatre 

“Our cultural sector is at the heart of our local communities providing not only entertainment but education and inspiration for many” said the foundation’s director Philippa Charles. “Our trustees were impressed by the entrepreneurial spirit shown across the arts in response to Covid-19 and it was a privilege to hear what organisations had been doing to not only survive but also to reinvent the way they reach audiences. What really stood out was the level of collaboration and support they had for each other and the determination to keep going, despite the increasingly difficult situation 

“We all want and need our cultural sector to thrive and, if anything, our time away from the arts has shown just how important they are to us - bringing much needed pleasure and enrichment to our lives. Arts organisations are desperate to re-open and get back to what they do best and we hope that this new funding will help many of them do exactly that. 

The NoFit State Circus’s (pictured) artistic director Tom Rack said the grant of £276,000 changes everything for the organisation.  “It is the difference between just surviving the next 12 months to ensuring a creative future post-Covid” he said. “This support gets us so much closer to welcoming our artists and audiences back to the big top."

Since April 2020, the foundation has given away over £75 million in funding to support charities across the UK, and its chair, Guy Weston, was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List.

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