THE immediate future of Storyhouse has been secured with the popular Chester venue set to receive vital Government funding worth almost three quarters of a million pounds.

Storyhouse is among more than 1,300 arts venues and organisations impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to receive a share of £257 million of state funding.

The tranche of cash is part of the Government’s £1.6 billion Culture Recovery Fund, and will "protect these special places" which "form the soul of our nation", said Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden.

The funding will help performances to restart, assist venues to plan for reopening, protect jobs and create freelance opportunities, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said.

Today's recipients are venues and organisations who applied for less than £1 million, with future releases of up to £3 million going to larger organisations in the future, it added.

Storyhouse, which said last week that its current financial situation "could not be more serious", will receive £730,252.

Also in line for funding is Liverpool's world famous Cavern Club, which launched the career of The Beatles and is currently closed down due to increasing coronavirus transmission rates in the city.

Sir Nicholas Serota, the chairman of Arts Council England, which is distributing the money, said: "Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages.

"This is a difficult time for us all, but this first round of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will help sustain hundreds of cultural spaces and organisations that are loved and admired by local communities and international audiences."

He said further funding will be announced later this month.

Mr Dowden said: "This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation.

"It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.

"These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country,"

Storyhouse’s CEO, Andrew Bentley (pictured below), said: "We’d like to extend our thanks to the Cultural Recovery Fund and to Arts Council England.

"Even more than the lifeline this extends to us, it’s so heartening to know that our partners feel that an investment in Storyhouse’s communities is an investment worth making.

"We’ve worked so hard since lockdown and have been open for business since day one.

"That’s not been an easy path to take when so many are closed; we feel fortunate to have been able to open our doors.

"We look forward to working even harder from this point and repaying the investment that has been made in us today.

Chester and District Standard:   

“This is a long way from the end of our struggle, but today gives us a vital platform for recovery. Storyhouse has never been needed more than now; we now work to create an even safer space in which our communities can gather together with joy. 

"Our sleeves are rolled up and we are ready for the next chapter.”  

Storyhouse’s artistic director Alex Clifton, said: "This has been, and continues to be, an incredibly hard journey for so many cultural organisations and their diverse communities.

"Cultural spaces help us define ourselves; if we lose them, we lose a sense of ourselves - it’s Peter Pan losing his shadow.

"One of the horrible potential outcomes of this pandemic is that we might lose the organisations, the shared creative spaces, in which we find and make our cultures.

"It would take a generation to reclaim them. These are not organisations that spring back to life in a day; they take decades to develop.

"So, this a bright moment amongst many dark ones.”  

He added: "With this support we will turn immediately to the work which justifies this investment: to bring people together in safe spaces, with shared joy. To empower creative communities to shape their own cultures.

"Through this work, we turn again to the freelance artists, technicians and performers who have been hit the hardest in our sector.

"We will use this vote of confidence to help get them back in work. We will keep open, in service of our communities when they need us - just as they help us when we need them.”  

The announcement comes after Rishi Sunak was accused of an "incredibly insulting" attitude towards the arts by frustrated workers currently unable to earn an income.

The Chancellor was criticised last week when, during an interview about the effect of the pandemic on people working in the arts, he spoke about the need to "adapt" and suggested there would be "fresh and new opportunities" available for those who could not do their old jobs.

But Mr Sunak has denied he was suggesting people in the struggling creative industries should retrain and find other jobs after coronavirus left them unable to work.

According to Arts Council England, the arts and culture industry contributes more than £10 billion a year to the UK economy, with £3 spent on food, drink, accommodation and travel for every £1 spent on theatre tickets.