Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund has awarded ACC Liverpool a £2.97m grant to help it secure its future until spring 2021. Tony McDonough reports
ACC Liverpool has secured almost £3m from a Government COVID-19 lifeline fund after taking a massive hit since the start of the pandemic in March.
Owned by Liverpool City Council, the waterfront ACC complex comprises the M&S Bank Arena, the convention centre and Exhibition Centre Liverpool, as well as the Pullman Hotel. With events unable to go ahead due to the epidemic revenues have plummeted.
In August the organisation asked for volunteers for redundancy among its staff. That process remains ongojng. Chief executive Bob Prattey, who has run the complex since it opened in 2008, said COVID-19 had been the “most challenging experience” of his 35-year career in the events business.
Now the Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund has awarded ACC Liverpool a £2.97m grant to help it secure its future at until spring 2021. It is one of 35 major cultural organisations receiving the first grants between £1m and £3m. Total amount awarded in this round is £75m. Earlier in October £334m was awarded to almost 2,000 organisations.
M&S Bank Arena has played a key part in Liverpool’s regeneration since opening in 2008. It has hosted high profile events such as the MTV Europe Music Awards, the Vitality Netball World Cup, BBC Sports Personality of the Year and artists ranging from Beyonce to Sir Paul McCartney.
From the start of national lockdown until the end of October alone, the venue postponed 34 concerts with expected attendance of 200,000. This represents an estimated loss of £18m in economic impact to the city region.
This vital funding will support on-going operational costs until spring 2021 and fund the purchasing of specialist equipment, to ensure the venue is COVID-secure for all audience sizes.
Socially-distanced events including The Classic Rock Show Christmas Party, Rumours of Fleetwood Mac and Jack and the Beanstalk will take place in December. The event programme next year includes Little Mix, Strictly Come Dancing: The Professionals, Dua Lipa and Elton John.
Mr Prattey said: “The grant will be used towards the operational costs of the arena until we are able to return to staging full capacity large scale arena shows. We continue to stand by our colleagues across the live music industry and support the hard work delivered to date through initiatives such as We Make Events and Let The Music Play.
“While we are very pleased to receive this funding for the arena, we still have no start date from the Government as to when we can resume our growing conference and exhibition programme.
“This situation is severely curtailing our corporate financial performance and ability to generate economic impact for the city region through attracting visitors who spend across the visitor economy. We therefore continue to fight for clarity, guidance and a survival package for these sectors as well.”