Major boost for M&S Bank Arena and Conference Centre as a venue receives £3 million lifetime grant

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The coronavirus pandemic has posed one of the greatest challenges of all time for the venue by the water. 34 concerts have been cancelled so far, representing an estimated loss of £18 million in economic impact to the region.

The group behind the M&S Bank Arena and Exhibition Centre has received a grant of almost £3 million from the £1.57 billion Government Culture Recovery Fund.

The arena is expected to host socially distanced events this Christmas.

The operator, the ACC Liverpool Group, is one of 35 major cultural organisations receiving the first grants of between £1 and £3 million, with investments of £75 million announced on Saturday.

But on Saturday Culture Minister Oliver Dowden announced that the huge venue will receive £2.97 million – almost the maximum available – from the rescue fund launched earlier this year to help venues through the crisis.

“The grant will be used to cover the running costs of the arena until we are able to host large-scale arena shows at full capacity again.

The grant will be used after the venue announced in August that it was offering voluntary redundancy to staff.

Bob Prattey, Chief Executive of the ACC Liverpool Group, who said earlier this year that the pandemic was the “most difficult challenge” of his career, said: “We are extremely grateful for the financial support we have received from the Culture Recovery Fund during this very difficult time.

“While we are very pleased with this funding for the arena, we do not yet have a starting date from the government when we can resume our growing conference and exhibition program. This situation severely limits our financial performance and our ability to generate economic impact for the city region by attracting visitors who stay in hotels and spending in restaurants and retail outlets across the visitor economy.

“We continue to stand by our colleagues across the live music industry and support the hard work that has been done so far through initiatives such as We Make Events and Let The Music Play.

“We therefore continue to fight for clarity, guidance and a survival package for these sectors as well”.

The group said that the “vital” funding will support ongoing operating costs until spring 2021 – and finance special equipment to ensure that the venue is Covid-secured for all audiences of all sizes. #

Next year’s event program includes Little Mix, Strictly Come Dancing: The Pros, Dua Lipa and Elton John.

Socially distanced events such as the Classic Rock Show Christmas Party, Rumors of Fleetwood Mac and Jack and the Beanstalk will be held in December, Mr. Prattey confirmed.

“These places and organizations are irreplaceable parts of our heritage and what makes us the cultural superpower that we are. This vital funding will secure their future and immediately secure jobs”.

The Minister for Culture, Mr Dowden, said: “As part of our unprecedented £1.57 billion rescue fund, we are today rescuing British cultural icons with major grants of up to £3 million – from the Shakespeare Globe to Sheffield Crucible.

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