Media release - issued 13 Oct 2020

Aldershot's Princes Hall receives grant from government's £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund

Rushmoor Borough Council's flagship theatre, the Princes Hall, has been awarded £166,000 as part of the government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced.

The funding will be used to contribute to the operational costs of running the venue over the coming months, as well as works and equipment required to get the theatre back open as soon as possible.

The Princes Hall is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced this week 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.

It is now more than six months since the Princes Hall was forced to postpone its professional show programme and, like the majority of theatres across the UK, has recently announced the postponement of its annual Christmas pantomime season. Whilst the venue continues to be used as a food distribution centre, and has started to host a number of community activities over recent weeks, the return of a full professional show programme without social distancing measures appears unlikely until the start of next year at the earliest.

The Princes Hall has provided a cultural hub for Rushmoor residents since it was built almost 50 years ago and attracts more than 110,000 people each year to enjoy its diverse programme of events. Almost all of the theatre's team of permanent staff have recently been redeployed to other areas of council operations following its prolonged closure.

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 of 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."

Councillor Maurice Sheehan, ​Rushmoor Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Operational Services, said:"After a number of tough months for the Princes Hall, and the cultural sector in general, this announcement is extremely welcome news. We are extremely proud of the service the theatre provides, and are looking forward to fully reopening the doors as soon as we possibly can."

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