The Wizard Of Oz pantomime is coming to The Atkinson in Southport on December 18-31

The Atkinson in Southport has been awarded £203,934 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).

The fund aims to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure it has a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today. 

The funding will allow The Atkinson theatre to re-open with a socially distanced pantomime over the Christmas period, as well as staging exhibitions for members of the public to enjoy. 

The Atkinson is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Housed in a Grade II listed building and holding extensive fine art and Egyptology collections, The Atkinson welcomes 500,000 visitors a year, delivering visual arts, dance, theatre, comedy, family-friendly and community programmes.

A spokesperson for The Atkinson said: “The Atkinson is the leading cultural organisation for Sefton borough and our staff take a leading role in various cultural partnerships locally and regionally.

“Our audience reach is national, making a valuable contribution to Southport’s tourist economy. We provide cultural opportunities for some of the poorest communities in the UK.

“Our outreach activities benefit thousands of young people from areas with very low levels of cultural engagement.

“The Atkinson provides hundreds of subsidised tickets to school children funded by its Development Trust offering them their first experience of live theatre, as well as over 6,000 school visits, loan boxes, artists in residence and our innovative ‘Sculpture in Schools’ project. “Our volunteering opportunities, apprenticeships and positive action traineeships provide pathways to employment to economically disadvantaged local people.

“Outside of The Atkinson’s core staff, our programmes provide employment for artists and freelancers across the cultural sector.

“The Atkinson’s fine art and Egyptology collections support the core of our community engagement. Containing artworks of national significance by artists like Henry Moore and Cornelia Parker, we programme major exhibitions like the current Fatal Attraction exhibition, regularly featuring prestigious loans from national museums and the Arts Council in our climate controlled, GIS compliant galleries, described by the GIS adviser as ‘the best-appointed galleries outside London’.”

After closing our doors in March 2020, The Atkinson re-opened its museum and gallery spaces on 27 July 2020, operating on reduced hours and controlled visitor figures under the government’s guidelines around safe access.

The theatre and studio have remained closed, but the Culture Recovery Fund will allow it to re-open with a socially distanced pantomime over the Christmas period.

It will support a range of additional safety features in relation to Covid-19 and will underpin The Atkinson’s operating costs, creating a model going forward. This approach will allow it to stay in touch with its audiences and maintain a high profile in the region, while managing costs until the full range of services can be offered.

The grant will also allow the Atkinson to continue with a range of high-quality, culturally diverse exhibitions between now and the end of March 2021, albeit streamlined both to save costs and to ensure visitor safety. For example, a number of public participatory activities and interactive elements had to be stripped out of our Brick Wonders LEGO exhibition (July-September 2020) but the core exhibition still managed to attract 10,000 local residents and tourists back to Southport town centre.

 

Old London Bridge features in the Brick Wonders exhibition at The Atkinson in Southport

Despite the restrictions we are still able to exhibit work by international artists such as Rui Matsunaga, Wilhelmina Barns Graham and a touring exhibition of books, Cats on the Page, from the British Library. Its planned programme of talks and lectures is migrating online with an appeal for donations to our Development Trust as well pay per view webinars with specific learning groups such as the Arts Society.

Culture Secretary Oliver 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. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said: “Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Tanya Wilcock, Head of Communities at Sefton Council said: “The substantial funding awarded to The Atkinson from the Cultural Recovery Fund will ensure local people from across Sefton and the wider Liverpool City Region have access to high quality arts and culture through this challenging time.”

Do you have a story for Stand Up For Southport? Please message Andrew Brown via Facebook here or email me at: mediaandrewbrown@gmail.com

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