Don’t exclude co-ops from culture support cash, government urged

Co-operatives UK says there are 87 cultural organisations on the Mutuals Register and some could collapse without support

After the government announced a £500m support package for the stricken arts and culture sector, which has been hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, ministers have been asked to make sure co-ops are eligible for help.

There are a number of community-owned or co-operative venues and museums in the UK. Apex body Co-operatives UK has written to culture secretary Oliver Dowden asking him to make sure co-ops and community benefit societies are not excluded from the support package because of their legal form.

This grants programme is part of the government’s £1.57bn package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of Covid-19. It is designed to keep cultural organisations afloat, providing them with support over a six-month period to ensure that by 31 March 2021 they can reopen, either fully or partially, or operate on a sustainable, cost-efficient basis until they are able to reopen at a later date.  

Organisations can apply for grants between £50,000 and £3m when the fund opens on Monday 10 August.

In the letter to Mr Dowden, Co-operatives UK chair Don Morris said: “There are 87 cultural organisations with a collective turnover of £5.3 in England that are registered with the Financial Conduct Authority as co-operatives or community benefit societies.

“These cultural organisations form an important part of the cultural economy, creating and supporting jobs. They work on the ground with communities or are music and arts venues supporting the night-time economy. Without access to the Culture Recovery Fund many risk closure by March 2021.

“We are asking the government to urgently amend the criteria to include organisations that are registered as co-operative or community benefit societies and listed on the Mutuals Public Register.”