The Radlett Centre has been given a lifeline after receiving an £82,000 grant as part of the government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).
Oliver Dowden CBE, MP for Hertsmere and also the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), announced on October 17 that 588 arts and cultural organisations across the UK would receive a share of more than £76million in essential support.
He told RadlettNews how thrilled he was to see that the Radlett Centre, which has been closed since the first lockdown in March, was one of the beneficiaries.
He said: “I love the Radlett Centre and I think it’s absolutely the heart of community life here. I’ve seen countless shows there including the panto, which sadly probably won’t happen this year. They have local societies like the Radlett Light Operatic Society, I’ve seen their performances as well.
“It’s another demonstration of the value that culture has to our community and that’s why at a national level, as the minister responsible for it, I fought hard to make sure we protected our precious cultural institutions and locally I’m delighted that Radlett has been a beneficiary of it.
“This will ensure that even though people are struggling a lot during the pandemic, we’ll continue to have this jewel in the crown of Radlett.”
The Radlett Centre, which has not been able to hold any events since March 13, has also benefitted from the extension of the Furlough scheme until spring next year.
The centre’s general manager, Greg Dexter, said: “All of this is a tremendous relief, to be honest. We’re already a skeleton staff, so there’s only really five full members of staff here and we operate every day, bar Christmas day. We couldn’t let anyone go and still function, so the extension of the Furlough scheme and receiving the grant has been tremendous.
“Opening that email (confirming the grant) was a bit like receiving our A-Level results – it was a huge relief! We’re very grateful for it.”
Mr Dowden CBE MP and Mr Dexter, who were interviewed by RadlettNews simultaneously via Zoom, had a candid discussion about when the Radlett Centre would realistically be able to hold events again.
Mr Dexter said that holding socially distanced shows would be a struggle for the centre because it would mean vacating up to 100 seats during shows, which would make it impossible for companies putting on the events to cover their overheads.
Mr Dowden CBE MP responded: “I desperately want to give you a date to get audiences back without social distancing, but it has to be a realistic date.
“As soon as we have a credible date, and I’d hope to do something in April or May sort of time, then you can start planning. I don’t want to give a date and then have to push it back after you’ve invested in it.”