Queer venues handed financial lifeline by COVID arts fund – but others miss out

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, cars running by it

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, one of London’s oldest continuously operating queer pubs, is among a handful of queer venues to receive a second lifeline grant from a COVID-19 arts fund.

The £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund, created to stave off closures and keep Britain’s art sector afloat, has confirmed a second round of funding, handing much-needed sums to queer venues such as the RVT, its neighbour The Eagle, and beloved east London haunts The Glory and Dalston Superstore.

The Queer House, an artists agency, scored £50,000 in emergency funding, while art collective group Duckie was given £146,931, documents from Arts Council England show.

Many, however have been left out of the sprawling scheme.

Among those to call out Arts Council England, which administers the fund, was Jeremy Joseph, owner of the Heaven and G-A-Y nightclubs.

“Absolutely gutted Arts Council England did not think Heaven was worthy of [the] Culture Recovery Fund grant, despite G-A-Y paying out over £1.3m in bills in last 12 months,” Joseph tweeted.

“No insurance payout. Only support was from the mayor of London [Sadiq Khan]. £0 support and cant open till 17 May with 20 per cent capacity.”

The Royal Vauxhall Tavern is set to receive £57,000 from the £1.57 billion Cultural Recovery Fund, it confirmed.

“We are delighted to announce that The RVT will receive £57,000 from the second round of the government’s Culture Recovery Fund,” the business confirmed on Twitter Friday (2 April).

Arts Council England, a government cultural agency, awarded the lifeline to the historic pub, long one of the capital’s go-to spots for late-night cabaret, experimental theatre and debating which booth Princess Diana and Freddie Mercury sat in that one boozy night.

The Glory is extremely grateful and excited to have benefitted from the second round of the Cultural recovery Fund. This…

Posted by The Glory on Friday, 2 April 2021.

The government’s rescue package for flailing cultural initiations was announced by the culture ministry in July 2020 following months-long frustration among queer venues and artists.

Suffering the jarring effects of months of lockdown, forcing them to shutter, queer venue-owners have scrambled to stay open for the past year.

Some have grappled with or succumbed to closures while others desperately crowdfund to keep employees and bills paid.