THOUSANDS of pounds in emergency funding has been given to two Swindon-based performance groups to help them survive during lockdown.

Tangle Theatre and Swindon Dance will get a much-needed cash injection as they receive a share of Arts Council England’s £33 million emergency response fund for national portfolio organisations.

The African Caribbean theatre company Tangle Theatre is based in Prime Theatre and celebrates the work of more than 50 heritages around south west England and highlights how they have contributed to UK theatre.

The group celebrated their new £23,317 grant which will be spent on new productions and a mentoring scheme for theatre tech professionals.

Artistic director and chief executive Anna Coombs said: “The trustees, associate artists and staff were delighted to receive a grant. This will help redress historical financial losses incurred due to the cancellation of our 2020 national tour of Volpone, which was sadly curtailed in March after its second sell-out week.

“In fact, we were on the way to perform at Swindon Arts Centre when the news of the pandemic reached us.

“All funding received by our charity is used to strengthen our workforce, develop unique and exciting theatre projects and directly support freelance theatre makers.

“This grant will be used to kickstart planning and development for a number of new projects including The Ubuntu Network, the Kukuya project, a new touring theatre work and a new touring opera work.

“We will be releasing an album of original music and song from our 2020 touring production Volpone later this year.

“The funding enables us to launch Amplify Online, a paid mentoring scheme for emerging technical theatre professionals offering one-off bursaries for individuals to work with industry experts on strengthening skills.”

The pandemic posed problems for the company but staff stayed optimistic and focused their efforts on helping the talented artists they work with.

Anna added: “We are a strong and positive company with the African mentalities of celebration and resilience at our heart. Our emphasis is currently on nurturing and caring for our large family of artists and audiences.

“One of our core company values is ‘Ubuntu’, an Xhosa word meaning ‘I am because you are’.

“We continue to tirelessly work to support, cherish and nurture artists and audiences from across the African Disapora during lockdown. We are particularly grateful for support from our partners at Prime Theatre in Swindon.”

Swindon Dance has offered online classes and activities during the lockdown while its Regent Circus base where classes and performances are usually hosted has been closed.

The extra £13,000 in emergency funding it's just received will be a lifeline during these difficult times.

South Swindon MP Robert Buckland and North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson welcomed the grants.

They said in a joint statement: “We understand how difficult the Covid-19 outbreak has been for the creative sector, and the challenges it has faced.

“We are delighted that both Tangle Theatre Company and Swindon Dance have been granted this money, which we hope will help relieve some of the challenges Covid-19 has posed.”

Arts Council England Launched its emergency response fund in March to help alleviate the immediate pressures faced by artists, arts organisations, creative practitioners, museums, and libraries affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The fund has already awarded £69 million to 10,000 people and independent groups – with the overall package coming to £160million.

National Lottery funding accounts for 90 per cent of the investment, with additional support from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the Treasury.