| 23 Jul 2024
NTIA support judicial review launched challenging inconsistencies in Cultural Recovery Fund Applications

MUMBAI: Little Lion Entertainment Ltd, who run The Crystal Maze LIVE Experiences in London and Manchester, with the support of The Night Time Industries Association, are announcing their intention to take legal action by way of Judicial Review against The Arts Council England over inconsistencies in the application process for businesses applying for the Cultural Recovery Fund within Round one and two.

Tom Lionetti Maguire, Founder & CEO of Little Lion Entertainment says:
“Like so many organisations in the Leisure and Hospitality Industry, we have been fighting for our very existence, as well as the livelihoods of our 250 staff, the majority of whom are actors, throughout the Covid pandemic. We have now been unsuccessful twice in receiving a grant from the CRF to support our business and our employees within.”

“Since 2016, we have pioneered a game changing form of theatre which creates unique immersive experiences that bridge a gap between theatre and attractions. As leaders of our industry we seek to blend world-class performance, award-winning game play and the unexpected. Pre Covid times we have been incredibly successful: welcoming over one million guests per annum from all over the UK and internationally and named by Timeout as one of the events of the 2010-2020 decade. In Manchester in particular we are the longest running theatre show and our 5* reviews on Trip Advisor attest to our guests loving what we do.”

“The CRF exists to help companies such as ours in these challenging times to ‘protect the UK’s culture and heritage sectors from the economic impacts of Covid-19’. A Cultural organisation is defined by the CRF as one ‘that works in our supported artforms or disciplines: music, theatre, dance, combined arts, visual arts, museums, or literature’. This is of course describes our very DNA as an organisation.”

“The explanations from the CRF as to why a grant was not merited were inconsistent, untrue and failing in any logical reason. Most notably, in the first application the CRF classified Little Lion as ‘culturally significant’ but denied the grant due to the belief that the revenue forecast recovery was too optimistic. In the second round the CRF denied the grant due to Little Lion being ‘culturally insignificant’ despite nothing having changed.”

“The CRF, funded of course by the Great British Public, have failed in their review of not only our applications but more broadly than this across our sector. Our intent to seek judicial review is essential to shed light on our mistreatment but also that of so many of our fellow cultural and heritage outfits: ultimately all we all want is to help our much loved industry recover and continue to delight millions for years to come.”

Michael Kill CEO of the Night Time Industries Association says:
"The Night Time Economy has suffered massively over the course of the last 16 months, and the processes around CRF funding, administered by Arts Council and Department of Culture, Media and Sport have not helped the sector which is already on a cliff edge.”

“The press coverage of the initial £1.57 Billion cultural recovery fund, in no way told the complete story, even amongst limited successful candidates, thousands were left out in the cold. To add insult to injury, businesses that survived the pandemic were declined funding due to adaptability, cultural significance and lack of diversity. We have continuously challenged the inconsistencies around these applications, and the subjective nature of eligibility and criteria in light of contemporary culture.”

“We completely support the Judicial Review that has been brought today by Little Lion Entertainment Ltd which highlights the inconsistencies in the assessment of businesses applying for the CRF fund, and brings light to the subjective and unfair nature that this process represents."