How Yorkshire culture and heritage is being backed by Ministers – Caroline Dinenage

MARKING the anniversary of the first national lockdown last week gave me time to take a step back and reflect on the past 12 months.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is amongst the venues supported by the Cultural Recovery Fund.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park is amongst the venues supported by the Cultural Recovery Fund.

Our arts and culture sector are weathering enormous challenges and hardship.

I’m sure that there will be some of you reading this who, like me, have sorely missed being able to visit our beloved cultural institutions and heritage sites.

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When I was a child my father used to work at Yorkshire TV as a freelancer, and I have very happy memories of a cottage in Tadcaster where we used to stay.

Wentworth Woodhouse is among the many attractions having to respond to the Covid pandemic and lockdown.

Last week, I had the pleasure of virtually visiting Wentworth Woodhouse to hear how grants from the Culture Recovery Fund helped the house survive in the run up to winter by supporting wages for staff and accelerating long-held digital plans.

The house, built in 1735, has zoomed into the world of digital and launched a mobile film studio to record information films for their YouTube channel and opened an online shop.

This digital infrastructure means people unable to travel can enjoy this iconic venue from home.

Our Culture Recovery Fund is helping to protect the core of our world class cultural sector through the pandemic.

The Cultural Recovery Fund has helped attractions like Harewood House.

A total of £96m of this funding has so far gone to a range of organisations across Yorkshire and the Humber.

This money has allowed for institutions including Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Hepworth Gallery and Harewood House Trust to help individuals and organisations deal with the impact of this crisis, so that they can welcome visitors this summer.

The money has supported local jobs, helped with maintenance and repairs and encouraged digital innovation, allowing them to have certainty and security as they plan for the future.

Funding from the Culture Recovery Fund has also been a lifeline for smaller cultural organisations across Yorkshire in so many ways.

This includes Leeds Libraries, who have been able to fund urgent work on the Grade-II listed building and continue with their plans for Leeds Lit Fest 
and the Brudenell Social Club who have been able to host free weekly music events, while working with partners 
such as Music: Leeds and Made With Music.

I’m thrilled this funding has been helping them to continue their great work in keeping the spirit in the community alive, as well as supporting at least 75,000 cultural jobs up and down the country.

We’re not stopping there – we will 
soon be announcing round two of the Culture Recovery Fund which will see hundreds of millions of pounds distributed to arts and culture venues around the country.

We all have a role to play to get cultural organisations back on their feet.

I think it’s safe to say, after the past year, we’ll all be more than willing to do whatever we can to help them reopen and recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

Yorkshire has so much to offer with its wonderful art and culture and I know that as we progress through the road map, and venues open up, they will be brilliantly supported.

I look forward to my own return visit in the future.

Caroline Dinenage is Minister of State for Digital and Culture at the DCMS. She is a Tory MP.

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