Nearly 700 venues applied for help from City Hall’s emergency culture team in pandemic

By Jessie Mathewson

Almost 700 galleries, theatres, cultural institutions and sector workers have applied for help from the Mayor of London during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sadiq Khan’s emergency culture support team has provided cash or guidance in 660 cases since the Covid-19 outbreak began – nearly double the 350 applications in the previous four years.

Jobs and earnings in the creative industries have been hit hard by the pandemic, with theatres and galleries shuttered, and freelance work evaporating.

One in six Londoners works in the creative industries, and the sector contributes £52 billion to the capital’s economy each year.

On Thursday, Mr Khan announced a new £750,000 fund to protect community spaces in the capital – bringing his total spend London community projects to almost £10 million during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Mayor said community and cultural spaces have been “invaluable beacons of hope, support and comfort” during the pandemic.

“They are providing an essential resource for our local communities, offering a safe and familiar place to support each other and delivering vital services following a decade of austerity,” he said.

“But these spaces are facing increased pressures from the impact of Covid-19, and desperately need support to continue their work.”

Cultural centres, social clubs, and youth clubs can apply for funding and one-to-one advice from the new City Hall fund, with local organisations helping Londoners during the pandemic a priority.

The fund will target groups supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, LGBT people, women, and disabled Londoners, City Hall has said.

The Mayor has already pledged £2.3 million for creative businesses including LGBT venues, workshops and independent cinemas.

Mr Khan’s emergency ‘Culture At Risk’ office has expanded since the start of the pandemic, offering “urgent” help with lease negotiations, fundraising, and lobbying as well as cash.

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