ARTS and entertainment venues across the Black Country have received a £2.6million boost from the second round of the the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Businesses and organisations in Dudley, Halesowen and Stourbridge are among those to have secured funding that aims to help organisations transitioning back to normal after months of closures and cancellations due to the coronavirus pandemic

£2,634,653 has been awarded through the Arts Council to support 35 organisations in the Black Country as part of further funding through the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund – which aims to ensure theatres, galleries, museums, performance groups, arts organisations and local venues affected by the challenges of the Covid-19 crisis to have a sustainable future.

Among those to have received cash are live music venue Red By Night, at The Waterfront in Brierley Hill, and Wordsley based events sound system provider Stage Audio Services Ltd which have been awarded nearly £400,000 between them.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood welcomed the funding as a lifeline for the area’s live music and events industries which will be aiming to rebuild and recover once Covid-19 restrictions are lifted this summer.

He said: “The money will make a massive difference for a lot of theatres, music venues and events companies, but I am particularly pleased for Red By Night and Stage Audio Services.

“Both businesses are works of passion by their owners and their teams, and their success is important not only to all of the people who work for them directly, but each of them is also key to opportunities available to local musicians, sound technicians and young people interested in the live music industry.

“Although Red By Night is a young business, it had already established itself as one of the leading live music venues in the Black Country when the pandemic struck and is leading The Waterfront’s re-emergence as a great place for a night out.

“Stage Audio Service’s work sustains events ranging from local community functions like the Himley fireworks to international festivals like Glastonbury.

“I was delighted to support both bids and cannot wait to see these businesses operating again when restrictions are lifted.”

Halesowen News: Mike Wood MP, right, with Vicki Wilkes, owner of Red By Night, left.Mike Wood MP, right, with Vicki Wilkes, owner of Red By Night, left.

Vicki Wilkes, owner of Red By Night which has received £80,000, said: “We could not be more grateful for the support we have received from Mike, from Dudley Council and from the Government. Even though there is no doubt that our business is viable in normal times, without this support and other measures such as the furlough scheme, Red By Night would not be able to open again this summer.”

Vicki and her partner Darren, who received the funds under their KNR Systems business name, said the money will allow them to stabilise their business’s finances and invest in outdoor capacity ready for when restrictions ease further on April 12.

Steve Banbury, operations director at Stage Audio Services – which provides sound systems for large music festivals and events across Europe – said the award of £283,799 would enable his business to invest in the future and look to recruit more younger people into behind the scenes professions that make large-scale music events possible.

Stourbridge's River Rooms, which received £57,900 back in the first round in the autumn, is also among the venues to have been awarded cash as part of this latest funding package which aims to help organisations plan for reopening and recovery.

The long-standing Mill Race Lane music venue, which has been going since 1999 and has played host to famous names over the years including 1980s icon Paul Young and The Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt, is to receive £28,950 this time round to help it stay afloat.

A £1million loan has also been awarded to Stourbridge music promotions company Ellis Live, run by River Rooms boss Mark Ellis, to help the business get through to the other side of the pandemic.

The loan will support the production of upcoming shows including touring costs - agents, freelance workforce, artists, technicians, crew and venue hire together with associated costs - and will mean the company can look to the future - planning, booking and marketing shows.

Other organisations in the Dudley borough to have been given grants include:

Halas Homes, Halesowen, which has received £25,000; Halesowen's Illyria Theatre Limited, which has been awarded £71,327, JP Event Safety Ltd, Dudley, which has scooped £58,360, LMSWORLDWIDE LTD, Halesowen, which has been awarded £28,483, MKM events CIC, Stourbridge, which has received £41,000.

An award of £46,210 has also been made to Sandwell Council, for activities for the Commonwealth Games 2022 to bring art, heritage and community engagement outdoors into parks and gardens.

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre has also received £568,357 to enable the venue to to offer small-scale, socially distanced events, build audience confidence to attend live events, host a produced performance and to return to community engagement activities.

The Culture Recovery Fund has now given more than £1.2 billion in grants, capital and repayable finance to more than 5,000 cultural organisations and sites.

Secretary of State for Culture, Oliver Dowden, said: “Our record-breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they've ever faced.

“Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors - helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead."

Peter Knott, area director for Arts Council England, said: “We’re delighted the Culture Recovery Fund has been able to offer support to a wide range of arts and cultural sector organisations across the Black Country.

“The Government’s package is hugely welcome, providing much of the sector with resources to reopen safely. Building upon investment made in the first round of Cultural Recovery Funding, we’re pleased to see that many more well-loved community projects, theatres, galleries, museums, clubs, music venues, festivals, key cultural suppliers along with other creative spaces and projects have benefited, and their communities will feel a boost as a result.

"Now that we’re hopefully on the road to recovery, there is much to look forward to as organisations get ready to reopen their doors, welcoming back audiences and making plans for the future.”