Rich Mix gets £1m government lifeline for Bethnal Green arts centre to get through Covid crisis

MP Rushanara Ali (left) at Rich Mix reopening with chief executive Judith Kilvington. Picture: Rich

MP Rushanara Ali (left) at Rich Mix reopening with chief executive Judith Kilvington. Picture: Rich Mix - Credit: Rich Mix

Nearly £1million is being given to the Rich Mix arts centre as part of the government’s £1.5billion Culture Recovery emergency fund announced this week.

Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road... 1m government lifeline to get through Covid emergency. Picture: Ri

Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road... 1m government lifeline to get through Covid emergency. Picture: Rich Mix - Credit: Rich Mix

The recovery fund cash is to help arts venues like Rich Mix “face challenges of the coronavirus pandemic” and secure their future.

The Bethnal Green centre is one of nearly 1,400 organisations getting support through the Arts Council announced by the Culture Secretary, with more coming in the next few weeks.

It gets around £972,000 in the first round of £257m grants being dished out from Whitechall, but there is still some way to go to full recovery.

MP Rushanara Ali (centre) meeting staff at Rich Mix reopening. Picture: Rich Mix

MP Rushanara Ali (centre) meeting staff at Rich Mix reopening. Picture: Rich Mix - Credit: Rich Mix

“There are difficult months ahead,” Rich Mix chief executive Judith Kilvington admits. “But this funding means we can work with artists and the community again, to secure our financial sustainability to next March.”


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Rich Mix opened in 2006 as a charity reaching diverse audiences in contemporary culture from live music to theatre, dance and visual art.

The building in Bethnal Green Road functioned 364 days of the year before the lockdown as a home for socially creative businesses with 400 events a year.

Staff preparing to reopen Rich Mix after lockdown.. Picture: Rich Mix

Staff preparing to reopen Rich Mix after lockdown.. Picture: Rich Mix - Credit: Rich Mix

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Independent films and blockbusters filled the schedule for its three-screen cinema including many premières, as well as live talks and debates.

But it lost most of its income overnight when the lockdown began and had to furlough many staff while drastically cutting costs to remain viable.

Now the lifeline from Whitehall offers a chance to get back on its feet as the East End’s main cultural stage.

Live events at Rich Mix in its heyday... government funding to get it back up and running. Picture:

Live events at Rich Mix in its heyday... government funding to get it back up and running. Picture: Rich Mix - Credit: Rich Mix

Its chairman Michael Keith said: “There has never been a more urgent need for Rich Mix as an asset in the cultural ecosystem.

“This funding is substantial support for us and the communities we serve, building bridges across diversities and divisions against the backdrop of isolation, deprivation and division.”

Rich Mix reopened last month with a reduced cinema programme of “safe distance” audiences on a very tight budget. The Culture Recovery government grant means that it now has the cash to move towards recovery by next March.

Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road... popular venue for political events like Lib Dem's manifesto launch

Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road... popular venue for political events like Lib Dem's manifesto launch in 2019 for the last general election. Picture: Mike Brooke - Credit: Mike Brooke

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed: “This funding will protect these special places, save jobs and help the cultural recovery, with further support to come in the weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back.”

The lifeline means Rich Mix can look into new ways of helping artists and east London’s “marginalised communities” by investing in digital equipment and training and developing partnerships with other organisations to stage live events and cinema.

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