MORE THAN £2 million has been dished out to struggling Dorset organisations who have been handed a valuable lifeline to help them survive through the financial struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 1,300 arts organisations across England are to receive a share of £257 million government money to help them survive the next six months. Further rounds of funding in the cultural and heritage sector are due to be announced over the coming weeks.

Theatres, museums, orchestras, and music venues were told on Monday (October 12) how much money they will receive from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

The £257M lifeline is for organisations which applied for less than £1 million. It will, ministers said, allow performances to restart and enable venues to plan for reopening.

Organisations in Dorset have been given £2.2 million. Popular venues, such as Weymouth Pavilion, say the grant will give them a 'lifeline' to survive and carry out repairs on their much-loved venue.

Here are the Dorset organisations that have received grants from the Culture Recovery Fund.
If there is an organisation that has received funding that we are missing from this list, please email me at

Diverse City

Diverse City has been awarded £275,690 as part of the Culture Recovery Fund to help ensure they have a sustainable future.

The performing arts company which brings together deaf, disabled and non-disabled creatives to make and tour new shows that reflect and shape society.

The funds will help make a mobile tent which will host shows, community projects and rehearsals around the area. 

Diverse City and Extraordinary Bodies co Artistic Director, Claire Hodgson MBE, said: "At last we can breathe a bit and move into a more secure future. March 2020 cancelled all our performances and tours leaving us and all our freelance professionals in a precarious financial place. 

"Now we'll be able to restart with those creatives, work safely with Extraordinary Bodies Young Artists and reach isolated creative communities. We will have a brilliant platform from which to relaunch and contribute to a wider, critical social recovery."

Dorset County Museum

Dorset Echo: Dorset County Museum

The venue has received £213,121 from the Culture Recovery Fund as the museum delays reopening until 2021.

A spokesman said: "This grant will help us recover some costs due to the loss of trade and the impact the project has felt in these difficult times."

Dorchester Arts

Dorchester Arts, which has been based in the town for more than 30 years, was awarded £52,710.

The grant will allow the organisation to build towards reopening in 2021 as they plan further announcements about the restarting of performance events and community activities, along with updates about plans to improve arts facilities in the county town.

Dorchester Arts' Artistic Director Mark Tattersall said: "We are grateful to Arts Council England for recognising the contribution of Dorchester Arts to the cultural and social life of Dorset by making this award.

"We had managed to weather the storm so far by mothballing our operations and furloughing our staff team, but needed further support due to the duration of the crisis."

Great Dorset Steam Fair

Dorset Echo: Great Dorset Steam Fair gets under way at Tarrant Hinton next week

The famous Dorset event which had to be called off due to the pandemic and was facing a 'very difficult winter' has been given a vital cash boost to help it survive.

The Great Dorset Steam Fair, traditionally an annual event at the 600-acre Tarrant Hinton showground showcasing Britain’s rich industrial, agricultural and leisure history, gets £236,200 which will be used to help towards monthly operating costs over the next six months.

Read more through this link.

Past Participate 

Past Participate is one of 445 heritage organisations across the country set to receive funding from the government. 

The organisation has been leading a community archaeology training programme in the Dorset AONB since 2018, which engages local volunteers and school children with the rich heritage of the landscape in which they live and work.

They have been awarded £25,000 to study the archaeological material already excavated by volunteers at Tenants Hill, near Kingston Russell/Long Bredy, and identify and assess new and safe ways to deliver engagement opportunities for older people.

Anne Teather said: "Jim, Hayley and I are immensely grateful for this support. We are a small organisation and have been worried that we may not be able to continue to provide training and support to enable local people to engage with heritage and archaeology, Involvement in archaeological research can provide significant wellbeing and mental health benefits, which is particularly important to our volunteers during this pandemic.

"This support allows us to explore what we can safely do and helps our organisation to be more resilient.

"Through the generous support of the Culture Recovery Fund we aim to identify ways to safely provide training opportunities for volunteers in excavation and other archaeological research as part of our project on Tenants Hill, Kingston Russell."

Stagecoach Productions 

Stagecore Productions has been given £50,000 in funding.

Sturminster Newton Community Building Trust

The community organisation has been given £59,491 from the recording fund.

Swanage Railway 

Dorset Echo: The SR U class No. 31806 on the Swanage Railway

Swanage Railway will receive a £223,200 share of the £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help heritage organisations through the coronavirus pandemic.

The funding is being welcomed by the railway, which launched a 'Save Our Service' appeal earlier in the year in the wake of the economic effects of coronavirus.

The funding will allow the award-winning rail line to improve on its existing systems and support Covid-19 safety requirements in the following ways:

• Upgrade its passenger reservations system which has experienced challenges in coping with the additional passenger information needed for Covid-19 track and trace

• Keep its stations and carriage stock sanitised to Covid-19 requirements

• Improve its information screens at Swanage and Corfe Castle stations

• Install information screens at Harman’s Cross and Norden stations

• Continue the provision of personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff and volunteers

• Provide further seating dividers in carriages where required

• Enable Equalities Act training for staff and volunteers

Tank Museum 

Dorset Echo: HEAVY METAL: Tonnes of fun at the 2014 Bovington Tank Museum Tankfest

The popular tourist attraction has received £780,000 in government funding - the most of any organisation in Dorset.

The Tank Museum was closed for three months during the lockdown period and was forced to cancel Tankfest, its biggest fundraising event of the year.

Weymouth Pavilion 

Dorset Echo: SUPPORT: The dancers brought the production to life   Picture: Weymouth Pavilion

The popular seaside venue was forced to make 25 members of staff, 70 per cent of its workforce, redundant after suffering losses of more than £500,000 during lockdown.

The venue, which reopened in August, has received a 'lifeline grant' of £573,413 to prolong its future and 'help face the challenges that Weymouth Pavilion continues to face during the coronavirus pandemic.'

A spokeswoman said: "This grant has given Weymouth Pavilion a new lease of life. The money will be used for on-going monthly costs, essential repairs and upkeep to the fabric of the building, continued support for community events and providing Covid safe entertainment during these difficult times.

"We are overjoyed to be in a position to continue to be there for our community, which we hope we can do for years to come.

"We love our community and are so thankful for the support we have received during these uncertain times.

"Please continue to support Weymouth Pavilion where you can by booking tickets, buying membership or just coming in for a coffee. Stay safe everyone."