THE arts, culture and heritage in the Winchester area have been thrown a lifeline by the Government.

Several organisation have benefited with money from the Culture Recovery Fund, set up to support the arts through Covid-19 and announced today.

All of them had seen their revenue streams almost completely disappear with the enforced closure during lockdown.

The biggest recipient is Boomtown, the outdoor music festival, which will receive £991,864 to Unit12 CIC in Winnall which will get £42,000.

Play to the Crowd, which operates the Theatre Royal, the Hat Fair and Playmakers, will receive £109,567.

Hat Fari at Cathedral Close. Photo: Adrienne Photography

Hat Fair at Cathedral Close. Photo: Adrienne Photography

The Railway Inn on St Paul's Inn, Fulflood, a music venue, will get £77,058.

The Watercress Line, the steam railway that runs between Alresford and Alton, will get £496,200 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Winchester Cathedral will benefit from £467,800, and St Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Winchester will get £156,000.

Play to the Crowd said the grant would help the charity look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery.

Deryck Newland, chief executive, said: "We are extremely grateful to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Arts Council England for approving our application to the second round of Culture Recovery Fund. This Culture Recovery Fund grant will help to mitigate some of the ongoing risks and uncertainties around Covid-19 across the next three months. Whilst Theatre Royal Winchester remains closed we are unable to earn any significant income and from the end May, when venues are allowed to re-open, the social distancing measures in place will mean limited capacities which financially just don’t stack up.

"This has been, and continues to be, an extremely challenging time for the sector. However, with the number of Covid cases continuing to fall and the extraordinary roll out of the vaccine programme there is light at the end of the long tunnel! We continue to plan with caution the re-opening of the theatre and its Cafe Bar. We are very mindful that people’s confidence to return to live events may still be a way off so we are looking to keep some social distancing measures in place throughout the summer months. Details of when we will be reopening will be announced soon. We are however delighted to confirm that our Outdoor Arts Festival Hat Fair will take place from July 2-4. The festival will take a slightly different format this year with all three days at North Walls Recreation Ground and the event, for the first time, will be ticketed. This allows us to restrict numbers and keep the festival socially distanced.

"We are grateful to the government for recognising the value of the arts, however the Culture Recovery Fund won’t save every venue or arts organisation and our thoughts are with those whose future remains uncertain, together with the thousands of freelancers who are the life blood of our industry and many of whom remain without any financial support since March 2020."

There was relief at the Railway Inn which puts on gigs and other art events most days of the week.

Owners Dan Lloyd and  Lucy Knight said today: "Hugely excited to announce that Arts Council England have awarded The Railway from their Cultural Recovery Funding programme. This news means that we can continue to thrive and grow as a music, arts and theatre community for Winchester, and more importantly reopen safely! This money is essential in allowing us to recover from the extended period of closure. It also ensures that vital community events remain funded and free to attend! A final thank you and much love to all our Crowdfunders who helped keep us afloat during closure, this is your win too."

Promoter Oliver Gray told the Chronicle this evening: "For over forty years, the Railway had made a huge contribution to the cultural and artistic life of Winchester, so for this to be recognised is wonderful."

Boomtown were delighted at the news. In a tweet it said guaranteed the future of the event which had been in question because of Covid restrictions,

In the Meon Valley Circus World Entertainment, based in Wickham, will receive £30,000 and Butser Ancient Farm, £152,800.

The successful applicants in round two of the handout, which nationally includes repayable loans and grants, were announced today.