Watershed has been awarded £731,993 from Arts Council England, as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund. Watershed is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. The award will allow Watershed to re-instate the reserves that were used for survival during the pandemic, and to invest in some specific business development that will help Watershed navigate the changed operational environment.

Watershed was thriving before lockdown, every part of the business was growing, but when they were forced to shut on 17th March, 48% of their trading income was lost. Despite the amazing range of audience and artist facing work Watershed has been able to deliver online, lockdown and the continued effects of social distancing has reduced their income this year by around £2.8 million.

A combination of furloughing, redundancies and cost-cutting has enabled Watershed to survive this period and enabled them to re-open the building in September.

Clare Reddington, CEO of Watershed says: “We are extremely grateful for the hard work of our teams and the support of our audiences and partners that made this such a smooth process, but our financial situation remains precarious – especially with the threat of further lockdowns ever present.

We are relieved and grateful to have been awarded this funding, which will help us navigate whatever further crisis 2020 holds, and will enable us to undertake a process of refining and fine tuning our business model. We will also invest in our fundraising capacity and internal inclusion support to ensure we can face the future with the competencies and capacities we will need. Ultimately, this grant will enable us to continue doing what we do best; produce an inclusive and future-facing creative community championing engagement, imagination and ingenuity, working locally, nationally and globally from our home in Bristol, UK. Thank you a million times.”

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, 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.”

The Culture Recovery Fund is part of the Government’s package of support for the UK’s culture and heritage sectors, supporting organisations that have been affected by the Covid-19 crisis to stay afloat and providing them with support over a six-month period. Today’s £257 million announcement is the first of two rounds of funding which will support more than 1300 arts organisations.

Watershed has had to pause a few of their core programmes whilst they waited to understand their financial outlook. The news enables some of their funded artist residency programmes to re-start which will be announced on Wednesday. Their focus now is on looking after staff, serving their audiences and supporting their creative community during this continuing period of challenge.