Dowden visits cinema after independent sector receives £650k in Covid funding

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has made a visit to one of the 42 cinemas receiving a share of the Government’s £650,000 coronavirus support fund for the independent cinema sector.

Mr Dowden shared photos from his visit to Reel Cinemas’ outlet in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, on Friday, where he was accompanied by members of the British Film Institute.

In one photo, Mr Dowden is seen holding a box of popcorn while another pictures him inside one of Reel Cinemas’ film theatres, wearing a face mask.

He tweeted: “Nothing beats the experience of the big screen. Our Culture Recovery Fund is now helping dozens of independent cinemas across the country – ensuring future generations can enjoy their unique character and history.

“Great visit @Reel_Cinema in #Borehamwood today with @BFI. One of the 42 independent cinemas sharing £650,000 funding from our £1.57bn #CultureRecoveryFund

“A shot in the arm to independent cinema with more to come. We are #HereForCulture. Please support your local cinema too.”

Some 14 of Reel Cinemas’ venues – in locations including Chippenham, Chorley and Rochdale – are receiving support from the scheme, totalling £139,958.

The money is drawn from the Government’s previously announced £30 million fund to help independent cinemas weather the pandemic.

The first tranche of support has gone to venues across England in locations including Gloucester, London, Plymouth, Rochdale, Wakefield and Sheffield, with more being allocated soon.

It comes as Arts Council England said the first round of money to be distributed from the cultural recovery fund had been pushed back a week from Monday October 5.

Monday was supposed to mark the day grassroots music venues would begin finding out whether their applications to the £1.57 billion cultural recovery fund had been successful.

The council, which is delivering the funding, replied to a tweet from the Music Venue Trust (MVT) on Twitter, saying the delay was “due to the volume & complexity of applications we received, many from organisations that are new to us.”

It added: “Given the amount of money involved, we have been undertaking additional due diligence to ensure that this public funding is spent responsibly.

“We completely understand the pressure the sector is under at this challenging time and we have contacted all applicants to let them know.”

In its original tweet, the MVT wrote: “Distribution of the Cultural Recovery Fund, 1st round due on Monday 5 Oct, has been pulled and delayed until Mon 12 Oct. At 4pm on the Friday before decisions were due to be announced.”

The trust questioned who had made this decision and why.

A second tweet from the MVT said: “These are literally life changing decisions about people’s careers, livelihoods, businesses and in some cases homes. They are being made after months of agonising waiting. People are on a knife edge.”