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Tate Britain in London. Photo: Tate.
Tate Britain in London. Photo: Tate.

UK Arts Institutions to Receive $426M Amid Steepest Economic Decline in Centuries

UK finance minister Rishi Sunak on Wednesday announced that the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) will receive a 2.3 percent boost in spending for the fiscal year beginning in April 2021, The Art Newspaper reports. That means a total of $426 million set aside for arts institutions, many of which were not eligible for (or did not apply for) the $2.1 million emergency rescue package for the arts the government put together earlier this year.

The news arrives as a relatively bright spot in a bleak economic landscape: The UK economy is expected to experience its sharpest decline in three hundred years, shriveling by 11.3 percent as borrowing in 2021 increases to $524 million, or 19 percent of GDP. Additionally, just hours after the news of the boosted culture budget broke, the government named Birmingham, Blackpool, Coventry, Hull, Kent, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and City of Wolverhampton as among tier-three areas, meaning that museums and larger arts institutions there will not be allowed to open when the countrywide lockdown is otherwise lifted on December 2.

Roughly $200 million of the new budget will go to “cultural and heritage infrastructure” with another $133 million directed toward essential maintenance and repairs. Sunak also noted that arts institutions will also benefit from a new $5.3 million leveling-up fund aimed at regional institutions. “Projects must have real impact,” he said. “They must be delivered within this parliament and they must command local support, including from their member of parliament.”

Meanwhile, Germany’s parliament approved for 2021 a whopping $2.5 billion federal culture budget, the largest in history. The funding, which represents a $185 billion increase over this year’s budget, will go in part toward the renovation of the Bayreuth Festival theater, the preservation of Berlin museums, projects addressing Germany’s colonial past, and a grant for the Jewish Museum Berlin.