Barbican Theatre, Plymouth receives lifeline grant from Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund


Barbican Theatre, Plymouth has been awarded £167,699 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure they have a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

Barbican Theatre, Plymouth is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving urgently needed support. £257 million of investment has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

“This vital investment will allow us to continue our extensive work across Plymouth: helping us build people's creative voices. “ Laura Kriefman CEO. 

Barbican Theatre is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) and a registered charity established in 1980. We are an inclusive organisation and get excited about people creating and enjoying theatre, dance, culture and live entertainment on stage and in unusual spaces.

We are relieved to be successful and looking forward to creating extraordinary work with the community and artists in Plymouth and the UK.” Laura Kriefman, CEO 

The Barbican Theatre will be concentrating on creating Pay-what-you-can site specific events around Plymouth - taking creativity and culture to communities directly, whilst we can’t have people in our theatre. From live music and dance, to giant puppets and comedy.

Alongside that we have successfully re-designed all our talent development work for a covid-19, and have launched 16 classes for 12-25 year olds. 

The theatre has an extraordinary track record for creating site specific shows. Previous open air #BardInTheYard summer productions offering professional emerging artists opportunities at Royal William Yard and our FUSE Diverse Dance production CIVIC with professional artists and the local community in the Melville Building back in February are just two examples.

When Covid-19 closed the theatre doors Barbican Theatre wanted us to use the teams’ skills from developing these previous site specific pieces to create performances that travelled to the communities of Plymouth (digitally and live). During lockdown they launched B-Hive, an online resource with challenges, tutorials and activities for all ages to engage with. More than 45,000 people engaged with films such as Zoom Games, lighting challenges, wall dance routines and creating #IsolationPlays.

The Digital Rebels were formed early in lockdown to explore how digital technology can create innovative dance film outcomes. The young rebels were joined by BT practitioners and specialists in videography and projection art installations to create the Butterfly Effect. The film and masterclass discussion is available here: and has been viewed over 1000 times: https://youtu.be/trf4JOdNP5A

In July our ReBels team worked with a number of dance organisations in the city to create a performance of Singing In The Rain to take to the gardens of care homes and day centres. 20 dancers of various ages and styles performed to more than 100 residents and staff members as a thank you for all their hard work and dedication.


From the end of July the monthly Café Acoustica was moved to Teats Hill Amphitheatre. Held on the last Friday of the month this brings live music, dance and spoken word to the Coxside community in a safe and secure way offering entertainment and performance opportunities to emerging artists in the city. More than 120 people have engaged with the free events so far.

On 10 September Barbican’s ReBels brought a giant puppet parade to the backalleys of the St Judes area of Plymouth. Five metre tall puppets built in free workshops at Barbican Theatre by local residents, accompanied by two seven metre tall on loan from Lostwithiel Puppets, paraded the backalleys watched by more than 1000 residents from the safety of their property.

From 28 September our ReBels Talent Development Training classes launched, following interruption of in person classes in March. More classes (an increase from 5 a week to 16 a week!) and additional venues were sourced to allow for smaller class sizes and safe social distancing. A total of 113 places have been taken by participants ages 12-25 in subjects such as Character and Stage Combat, Online Stories, Comedy Sketches, Composing & Choreography and Catwalk Creativity. Classes cost £60 for an entire year and participants can attend as many sessions a week as they want. Introducing more classes has enabled us to offer increased employment for freelancers across Plymouth and increases the quality of training available for 12-25s.

Barbican Theatre were facing a reduction in turnover of more than £392,447 in the 2020/21  financial year, so this grant is vital in enabling us to continue our work and supporting people to gain employment in the arts. Without it the future would have been very bleak.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said:

“This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation. It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery. “These places and projects are cultural beacons the length and breadth of the country. This unprecedented investment in the arts is proof this government is here for culture, with further support to come in the days and weeks ahead so that the culture sector can bounce back strongly.”

Chair, Arts Council England, Sir Nicholas Serota, said:

“Theatres, museums, galleries, dance companies and music venues bring joy to people and life to our cities, towns and villages. This life-changing funding will save thousands of cultural spaces loved by local communities and international audiences. Further funding is still to be announced and we are working hard to support our sector during these challenging times.”

Chief Executive Officer, Barbican Theatre, Laura Kriefman, said:

“This vital investment will allow us to continue our extensive work across Plymouth: helping us build people’s creative voices. We are relieved to be successful and looking forward to creating extraordinary work with the community and artists in Plymouth and the UK”. 

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