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Bethnal Green and Bow receive millions in emergency cultural funding

Tower Hamlets secured over £5.5 million of emergency funding for cultural organisations distributed between 51 recipients, all but eight of which are located in the Bethnal Green and Bow area. These accounted for £4.2 million of the borough total.

The culture funding, totalling £261 million, was the second round of support awarded by the Arts Council of England (ACE) for the country’s struggling arts and entertainment industry. Awards were distributed to groups in need of financial support during the pandemic. The first round of ACE grants last November saw Bethnal Green and Bow bring in £5 million previously.

Tower Hamlets’ disproportionate haul of the recovery fund is no surprise for one of London’s most creative boroughs. Bethnal Green and Bow brought in more than the boroughs of Lewisham and Croydon combined. The funding is a testament to the cultural influence of the East End, a part of London long-overlooked despite its vital role in maintaining the city’s art scene. 

Bow Arts Trust received over £300,000 from the fund. Headquartered just off Bow Road, the trust has helped finance and support local creatives since 1995, providing studio space and programs to supplement artist income.

Both the Rich Mix art centre and FourCorners film and photography centre received £320,000 and £45,000, respectively.

The Cultural Recovery Fund also served to highlight the diversity of the borough’s creative offerings. Hospital Rooms is an arts and mental health charity that takes the infamously sterile environment of the mental health unit and commissions stunning murals to humanize it. Hospital Rooms received £75,000 from ACE.

‘Thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund the Hospital Rooms Digital Art School can continue, and we can keep working creatively with people in mental health units around the country at a time when it is most needed,’ said Hospital Rooms co-founder, Tim Shaw.

Whitechapel Gallery was another large beneficiary of the cultural support. The 120-year-old museum and non-profit charity has been awarded just over £200,000. A Whitechapel Gallery press release published after receiving the funding outlined how the money will help the museum recover after a difficult year.  

‘The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead,’ said a Gallery representative.

If you liked this you may like Rosie Wadey’s review of the Terence Williams Retrospective at Stour Gallery in the Old Baths 

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