In a rare piece of good news for the country's art groups, millions of pounds of lottery money has been given out to to help refurbish run-down theatres, galleries and cinemas.

Arts Council England (ACE) gave out small capital grants, between £100,000 and £500,000, to 35 different organisations including the Hackney Empire, the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester and the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham.

A total of £11.6 million has been given out as part of the scheme which is funded by lottery money.

Hackney Empire Chief Executive Clarie Middleton said: "We take our role as custodians of this magnificent Grade 2* building very seriously and this grant will enable us to address a great many of the issues that have beset the building over the last number of years including several major leaks and subsequent damp problems.

"We also pride ourselves on being accessible and inclusive to all sections of the community and a part of this grant will allow us to make the building even more accessible to wheelchair users and other disabled audience members."

ACE is also considering 20 other bids for funding of more than £500,000 to its large capital grants fund from groups including the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Nottingham Playhouse and the groups involved have been asked to come back with more detailed plans.

Its Chief Executive Alan Davey said: "The UK's arts and culture sector is the largest cultural economy in the world as a share of GDP.

"The Arts Council is working hard to ensure that this valuable contribution continues and the capital programme is a key part of that. This funding enables arts organisations to maintain the excellent work that audiences across the country enjoy by providing them with high-quality equipment and flexible working environments."

The grants come at a welcome time for the nation's art community which is facing governmental cuts of up to 100% in some areas.