Exterior of Watershed building

Bristol Light Festival: Overheard in Bristol. Credit: Andre Pattenden

Watershed awarded grant from the Culture Recovery Fund

Posted on Mon 12 Oct 2020

Support for business development, inclusion and reserves for Watershed from the Culture Recovery Fund.

Watershed is delighted to have been awarded a grant of £731,993 from Arts Council England, as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport's Culture Recovery Fund. The grant allows us to re-instate the reserves we have used for survival during the pandemic, and to invest in some specific business development that will help us navigate the changed operational environment.

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

A combination of furloughing, redundancies and cost cutting has enabled us to survive this period and 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."

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.

James Touzel, Chair of Watershed's board says:

We would like to thank Arts Council England, the British Film Institute and Bristol City Council for their support, flexibility and belief in Watershed through the past months. We would also like to thank the staff – past and present, for their support during this hugely challenging time. We can now look forward with hope and a greater degree of stability.

Watershed continued to support creatives across the UK during lockdown with funding, business development and community engagement, but recently paused announcing new programmes whilst we waited to understand our financial outlook. We are delighted that this news give us confidence to re-start our funded artist residency programme which will be announced on Wednesday. Our focus now is on looking after staff, serving our audiences and supporting our creative community in the best way we can during this continuing period of challenge.