The Hall For Cornwall (HFC) has been awarded a £2 million Arts Council England grant from the Capital Kickstart fund, part of the Government’s £1.57 billion package to protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of Covid-19.

HFC is one of 74 organisations receiving grants totalling £58.9 million today (Dec 11). The Capital Kickstart fund was launched in August to help existing holders of Arts Council capital grants to complete building projects that would otherwise be stalled by the impacts of the pandemic.

Part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, the money is designed to cover increased costs relating to Covid-19, including extended completion dates and the loss of fundraising income.

The National Lottery Heritage Fund has also confirmed today that it is providing HFC with an additional £231k, bringing its total investment to £2.8 million to support the restoring and promoting of the building’s rich 175-year history and its importance as a civic and municipal space.

Truro and Falmouth MP, Cherilyn Mackrory, said: “This is a hugely important project for Cornwall and I’m delighted that Arts Council England is using some of the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund to offset the impacts of Covid-19. Once complete the Hall For Cornwall is expected to bring over £35 million to the Cornish economy in the first five years and create 165 jobs, and play an important role in our post-pandemic economic recovery.”

HFC is undergoing an ambitious transformation which has seen the Grade II listed building entirely gutted to make way for a greatly enlarged auditorium, new cafés, bars, and creative business space.

But the £21.6 million project has been hit by delays after the site was forced to shut down entirely for a month during the first lockdown, and since then has been impacted by social distancing rules, slowing construction and increasing costs. The project had originally been due for completion this year but is now aiming to stage its first major show in September 2021.

Julien Boast, HFC’s chief executive and creative director, said: “We’ll soon be announcing details of our first major co-production for next year and we’re hugely grateful to Arts Council England for stepping in with this vital grant from the Cultural Capital Kickstart Fund to cover extra Covid-related project costs. We’re also grateful to the National Heritage Lottery Fund for an additional £231k, which has also been announced today.

“The virus has delayed our reopening but that has only hardened our resolve to put together a fantastic programme of entertainment for our inaugural season. While we work towards completing the build we are continuing with our community activities across Cornwall, supporting local talent, young people and schools.”

The transformation of the Hall For Cornwall began in 2018 and includes a new three-tiered auditorium with an additional 300 seats, or 1,253 in total, which will attract many more national touring productions. There will be new bars, cafés and communal spaces, and a creative digital business hub, which is a first for a UK regional theatre.

The aim is to attract 300,000 people annually and work with 50,000 children in every primary and secondary school in Cornwall in the first five years. HFC operates as a charity, with all surpluses invested in working with young people, increasing the impact of Cornish creative industries, and creating co-productions with Cornish and national partners.