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France and Germany also poured money into the arts, while a major commercial gallery had to let go of 40 staff.

The National Gallery, London. © National Gallery, London.

Museums and galleries in the United Kingdom were permitted to reopen on 4 July, but many are still struggling to survive. In a response that has been described as sluggish, the UK Government has promised £1.57 billion (US $2 billion) in investment, grants and loans for the arts and culture sector.

'This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down,' said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The funding package includes £1.15 billion for cultural organisations in England, £880 million of which will be paid out in grants. An additional £100 million will go to national cultural institutions in England and the English Heritage Trust, and £120 million to infrastructure and construction projects.

Outside England, £97 million will go to Scotland, £59 million to Wales, and £33 million to Northern Ireland. Recipients of the funding will be decided by independent arts organisations such as the Arts Council England, Historic England, and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The United Kingdom is not alone in pouring money into the arts. Last week, Germany approved €1 billion (US $1.13 billion) for its culture sector, and France said in a news release that it had committed €5 billion (US $5.7 billion) to the culture sector (including unemployment and job retention benefits) since March, €391 million of which went to the Visual Arts.

Commercial galleries are likewise continuing to deal with the economic impacts of the pandemic. David Zwirner gallery announced last week that it has laid off 40 staff members.

'The staff reductions are a function of the changed nature of our business and the near total disappearance of traditional workloads in certain departments,' David Zwirner told Art News. The gallery is anticipating a 30% decline in total sales by the end of 2020. —[O]

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