Leeds Heritage Theatres has received £119,900 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to help address the impact of COVID-19 on its three heritage venues.

Since the doors to Leeds Grand Theatre, City Varieties Music Hall and Hyde Park Picture House closed on March 17 2020, the company has lost 99% of its income (earned through ticket, bar and merchandise sales), and furloughed 96% of staff; with a small team being kept on to manage customer refunds, reschedule performances and maintain necessary administrative functions.

Chris Blythe, CEO, said: “Since our venues ceased trading due to the pandemic we have been doing everything we can to ensure our survival throughout this period, as well as prepare for the economic uncertainty that will follow, including drawing on our reserves which we had planned to invest back into our three heritage buildings.

“This grant is a lifeline, and whilst it won’t quite see us out of the woods (we are waiting to hear if we have been successful in our bid for emergency funding from the government), we’re hugely grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for supporting us at this crucial time; it’s invaluable to us and others who are passionate about sustaining heritage for the benefit of all.”

The UK-wide funding, made possible by National Lottery players, was awarded through The National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Heritage Emergency Fund. £50million was made available to provide emergency funding for those most in need across the heritage sector and to help organisations to start thinking about recovery. The money awarded to Leeds Heritage Theatres will be used to fund re-opening costs across The Grand and City Varieties, including signage and PPE.

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive of The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “Heritage has an essential role to play in making communities better places to live, supporting economic regeneration and benefiting our personal wellbeing. All these things are going to be even more important as we emerge from this current crisis.

“Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players we are pleased to be able to lend our support to organisations such as Leeds Heritage Theatres during this uncertain time.”

Like Leeds Heritage Theatres, other charities and organisations across the UK affected by the pandemic are being given access to a comprehensive package of support of up to £600 million of repurposed money from The National Lottery. This money is supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and span the arts, community, charity, heritage, education, environment and sports sectors.

Thanks to National Lottery players, £30 million is raised every week for good causes, including heritage of local and national importance. By playing The National Lottery, people up and down the country are making an amazing contribution to the nationwide-response to combatting the impact of COVID-19 on local communities across the UK.