Culture Recovery Fund Creative Youth

Surrey and south west London arts venues thrown a lifeline

Culture Recovery Fund for south west London and Surrey organisations

Congratulations to the recipients who make up our fantastic arts scene

Many of south west London and Surrey’s much-loved arts organisations have been awarded a grant as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund being administered by Arts Council England to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future. Some 1,385 grants across the country have been awarded.

Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

While the grants have thrown our arts and culture scene a vital lifeline, they still need our support more than ever. Be part of a socially distanced audience where you can, and see how you can help with fundraising campaigns…

The Rose Theatre, Kingston

Averaging over 150,000 visitors a year, the Rose enjoys artistic and critical acclaim from its own productions and co-productions as well as from hosting the work of renowned theatre companies. Says a spokesperson for the Rose: “With this support, the Rose can continue to create inspiring and engaging theatre and fulfil its work as a centre for learning and participation and a community arts hub. We will remain a home away from home for our local communities and continue to nurture the next generation of theatre makers.”

“We pledge ourselves to the freelancers who help us make our work and will continue to stand by their side through the rough times ahead. This support is crucial to safeguarding a future for the Rose. Without this grant and the support we have received from our loyal supporters and audiences, alongside our key stakeholders — the Royal Borough of Kingston and Kingston University — the Rose would not survive.”

“We look forward to a time of full auditoriums, bustling bars and backstage areas buzzing with excitement. Until then, we welcome you to return to the Rose from later this month for our socially distanced season of productions.”

Wimbledon BookFest

Bringing top names to Wimbledon Common for its festival celebrating the arts and literature, the much-loved Wimbledon BookFest also delivers public and education programmes which span socio-economic groups and communities. Pre-2020, the festival hosted 100+ events annually and attracted 20,000 attendees. Over 100 schools have taken part in BookFest’s ‘Word Up’ initiative, which includes author events and workshops, writing competitions, sixth form panels, film-making projects and volunteering opportunities.

Fiona Razvi, festival director says: “Earlier in the year we launched a community fundraising campaign and thanks to this and our sponsors we were able to deliver a live weekend festival in September and a series of digital events. However, funding sources were drying up and the future was becoming uncertain. This news means we can continue moving forward with delivering our education programme for young people in South London, bringing authors and creative multi-media projects into schools, as well as live events to our community. It’s offered us a life line!’

Creative Youth, Kingston (pictured top)

Creative Youth is the Kingston-based charity that exists to enable young people, aged 5 – 26, to realise their potential through the arts, involving them in innovative, original and ambitious projects. 

The charity produces high quality programmes to showcase young creatives and offer opportunities for all young people to build confidence and skills through involvement and participation in the arts. Some of the current initiatives include the Creative Talent Programme, which offers artistic, business and strategic support to young emerging artists, and the International Youth Arts Festival which takes place each July.  

International Youth Arts Festival hosts over 150 events each year for and by young people. 2020 saw the introduction of International Youth Arts Festival: Digifest, an online showcase of creative work produced during lockdown. Digifest resulted in a wealth of international collaborations and will form an important part of the festival in future years. 

Chair, Creative Youth, Robin Hutchinson, says “We are grateful for this support and for the recognition it gives to the charity and our work which will be even more vital in the future. The need to provide opportunities and support for young people will only grow and it is vital that these are open, accessible and provide platforms for people to realise their talents and ambitions as we rebuild after Covid-19.”  

Watts Gallery

Established in Compton, Surrey at the end of the 19th century to provide Art for All, Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village is the legacy of the great Victorian artist, George Frederic Watts OM RA (1817 – 1904) and his wife, the artist and designer, Mary Watts (1849 – 1938). The Wattses believed that art should be available to everyone, and that access to art and to craft could improve people’s lives.

Today, Watts Gallery Trust upholds this ethos, ensuring that the unique campus of Arts & Crafts buildings and the internationally important collection of paintings, sculpture, ceramics and works on paper created by its founders are accessible to as many people as possible.  Alongside exhibitions and events, in collaboration with artists and creative practitioners the Trust delivers a programme of transformative workshops for socially excluded and vulnerable groups.  These workshops are inspired by the heritage of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village and help to build self-confidence and to develop new skills.

Alistair Burtenshaw, director of Watts Gallery Trust, says: “I am extremely grateful to the Government for this vital support to aid our financial sustainability at this challenging time. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our staff, creative practitioners, volunteers and supporters alike for their commitment and tireless efforts in continuing to deliver our Art for All programmes throughout the pandemic. Our digital programmes have kept audiences entertained, and our community learning workshops were quickly adapted to make sure that those who need it most have still been able to reap the wide-reaching benefits of creativity and art.

“Having implemented Government-recommended safety measures across our site, we have commenced a phased reopening of Watts Gallery – Artists’ Village since July. It has been a joy to be able to welcome visitors, volunteers, programme participants and staff back in person or through our digital programmes and I look forward to working with our community to further extend our Art for All ethos at this difficult time for everyone.”

The Clapham Grand

Established in 1900, The Clapham Grand plays host to a wide variety of events every year. Says Ally Wolf, The Clapham Grand manager: “We would like to thank The Arts Council and the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport, for their continued support, without which we would have most likely had to close by now. We would also like to thank The Music Venue Trust, and The Night Time Industries Association for their incredible and invaluable advice and support throughout this Covid-19 era.

“More them anything we’d like to thank our audiences who have shown us huge support since we had to close during lockdown – with their donations to our Crowdfunder, and their faith in our ability to host safe physically distanced shows by coming back to us now that we are reopening. Also, a huge thanks to our staff and the performers who have worked incredibly hard in this challenging time to make sure we keep this dream of a venue alive!

 “Without people you are nothing and more than ever is this true.

“We will now concentrate all our efforts on making sure we make The Clapham Grand the best possible venue we can, a home for everyone to come and be entertained, escape reality and leave laughing. We are incredibly lucky to have been given this lifeline and are incredibly happy – but more than anything we are hungry to make the business a success.

 “The Grand plays a huge part in London’s hospitality ecosystem with over 400 events a year and over 100,000 customers. We employ up to 60 people including freelancers, who look to The Grand to make a living and be part of an inspiring, mutually supportive community. We, like other venues across the country, also play an important role in the pipeline for new UK talent”.

Following on from three successful Save Live Comedy shows, the venue has recently hosted performances from comedy heavyweights Jimmy Carr and Russell Howard, music from Frank Turner and pop princess Louise Redknapp.

The venue raised over £50k themselves as part of the ‘Save the Grand’ campaign through the summer. The newly refurbished Upper Circle has increased the post-lockdown capacity of the venue by 100, taking it to 400 with current physical spacing regulations. Refurbishing and opening the Upper Circle has given the venue an extra 100 tickets to sell with distancing, although is still trading over 50% below the former capacity of 1250 – but these extra tickets give the venue more chance to make the new financial model work and survive this period. The team have been able to reformat the venue with seats and tables in a way that actually increases the audience enjoyment.

In part thanks to the grant from the Arts Council, some of the brightest new stars and biggest names in comedy, drag and music are set to take to the stage in the coming months, reflecting The Grand’s ongoing desire to showcase the very best in modern variety, comedy, music and entertainment.

Landmark Arts Centre, Teddington

Being successful means that, with no end in sight for the return of normality, the arts centre is now able to plan with greater certainty what it can offer the community over the next five months, with sufficient funds to keep The Landmark viable even with a limited programme.

Lesley Bossine, centre Manager, commented: “We are absolutely delighted that we have been given this lifeline by the government. However, it is a temporary reprieve and what happens from April we will address nearer the time. If the current restrictions continue, we still can’t operate a full programme and what we can do is not enough to fully cover our costs, so our need to fundraise continues.”

Lesley, added: “However, this is a stark contrast to the position we faced in March when we were looking at winding up in mid-May. That we were able to be around to even apply to the Cultural Recovery Fund has only been possible thanks to the generosity, kindness and active support of our community that has enabled us to keep going thus far.”

The Landmark is now actively planning events it can put on for people in the run up to Christmas, including a week of mixed live performances and the Landmark Festive Emporium arts & crafts event, with the hope of providing more next year combined with the ever-popular courses and workshops.

Martin Nicholds, chair of trustees, commented: “We are conscious that whilst we’ve been successful in getting the grant monies, other arts organisations won’t have been. We’ve all read in the papers about the crisis that so many talented people who work in the arts face and all of us at The Landmark wish them much luck and encourage you to support them in whatever way you can.”

The Landmark continues its fundraising effort to save the centre from permanent closure. Under current social distancing regulations, live performances remain difficult financially with a 329-seating capacity reduced to 70. If you are able to donate to the Save The Landmark fundraising campaign, please go to


Head to our what’s on section to find out what’s coming up at our fantastic venues.