THE founder of the charity which runs an independent cinema and an award-winning museum in Helensburgh has welcomed emergency funding for the arts and culture sector to aid its recovery from the coronavirus lockdown.

A new £1.57 billion package of support grants and loans for the arts was announced by the UK Government this week, with an estimated share of £97m for Scotland.

Under the scheme, organisations from the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic places, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinemas will be able to apply for emergency funds.

Brian Keating, who runs The Tower Digital Arts Centre and the Scottish Submarine Centre, said the cash will be a vital boost.

He told the Advertiser: “We will be applying for any funding available. People forget the cost of insuring these old buildings, and heating, especially as we come up to winter, as well as staffing costs.

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“The arts are critical if you think about the numbers of people who come through our doors, - around 45,000 a year. That’s people who would’ve gone elsewhere if we didn’t have the Tower or the Submarine Centre.

“We are a huge link to the economy. When these people stay in town, they eat in town, drink in town and get their entertainment in town, so it makes a big difference in keeping people local.”

The Submarine Centre was recently named as a finalist in the 2020 AV Technology Awards for ‘Visitor Attraction of the Year’, while renovation work has been ongoing at The Tower during lockdown.

Brian said both facilities have been hit hard by the enforced closures, but he is pleased to be able to plan ahead for their re-opening.

“We have been devastated, like most businesses,” he added, “but maybe more than most because cinema and live performances have completely stopped.

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“We would have very little content to show, even if we were open.

“We are targeting mid-September to open The Tower again.

“It’s not set in stone, but we are hoping to re-open the Sub Centre at the end of August, on a reservation system where people book online first.

“Lockdown has highlighted the importance of local businesses and they are important not just in a crisis, but all year round.

“There are some lessons to be learned from what has happened and hopefully we will learn them.”

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