Horsecross Arts, the creative organisation and charity behind Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre has applied for and received £749,900 of Scottish Government funding to help it survive and recover from the COVID-19 crisis. 

The funds come from the £10 million Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund created by the Scottish Government in response to the catastrophic effect that pandemic enforced closures have had on arts organisations across the country. The funding will affect 18 roles, by either removing the threat of redundancy, or bringing employees back from furlough leave to help the organisation develop plans for a sustainable future. 

As a Creative Scotland Regular Funded Organisation, Horsecross Arts was able to apply for funds to support three criteria – to reduce the risk of insolvency and build the organisation’s sustainability to enable the development and delivery of activity; to allow specialist/core staff to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainability plans, and to increase the opportunities for commissioning and employment of freelance artists and creative practitioners. 

Horsecross Arts chief executive Nick Williams said: 

“Since the COVID-19 crisis hit, we’ve been following up every potential source of funding to try to secure our finances and safeguard jobs. It is a huge relief to receive this funding. It helps us secure the finances of the organisation so that we can plan for the future. We’ll be able to use a proportion of the funding to support 18 roles, either by removing the threat of redundancy, or by bringing employees off furlough to work on sustainability plans. It will help us create a new programme of work for our communities that takes into account the restrictions we’ll be operating within for the foreseeable future.

“The redundancy consultation process we have been forced into because of COVID-19 is incredibly distressing for all involved. The fact that we can safeguard some roles with this funding is very welcome news to be able to share with our employees. Setting the organisation on a secure financial footing will enable us to focus on interim programming and also our determination to bounce back when live performances are legally permitted in our venues, economically viable and safe. It remains my hope that many of the valued team members who may have to leave us now will choose to return when circumstances allow.” 

Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Fair Work and Culture Fiona Hyslop MSP said: 

“Horsecross plays a key role in Scotland’s culture sector through Perth Theatre and Perth Concert Hall. Both are wonderful venues renowned for the quality and variety of the performances they present, enjoyed by both the local community and visitors from further afield. I recognise and applaud the significant contributions that the organisation makes to the people and communities of central Scotland socially, economically and culturally.” 

Horsecross Arts has stayed connected with its community groups throughout the pandemic crisis, launching Virtual Voices, an online version of the popular regular singing group Horsecross Voices, and Little Stars online, weekly workshops for 0 – 5 year olds and their grown-ups. Young members of the Horsecross Arts Join In programme have created video diaries for as part of The Coronavirus Time Capsule project for groups of young people everywhere, created by Company Three. See 

The daily Keep Going Together blog continues to deliver bite-sized moments of culture and community as it has since the venues were forced to close at the end of March. 

With the funding now secured from Creative Scotland, Horsecross Arts is working to put together a programme of community theatre, music and activities to continue to engage with audiences whilst Perth Concert Hall and Perth Theatre remain closed. Details will be announced shortly. 

The organisation is also hopeful for further support from the £97 million UK Government funding package for the arts, culture and heritage when details emerge on how this will be distributed. 

Horsecross Arts is supported by Creative Scotland, Perth & Kinross Council and The Gannochy Trust.

Wednesday 5 August 2020