A DRAG queen and opera singer has received more than £200,000 from a fund to help the arts sector amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Le Gateau Chocolat, who has performed all over the world as a solo artist since his debut show in 2011, was granted £215,000 from the Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England and the government.

The Brighton-based performance artist, whose real name is George Ikediashi, was due to perform at Brighton Festival earlier this year.

Kyla Booth-Lucking, director of programming and participation at Brighton Festival, described the £215k grant as "fantastic news" and said she had been "brought to tears" by previous Le Gateau Chocolat shows.

She said: "It was really sad to have to cancel the festival this year and also not to have him perform, so it's great to know he is being supported through this fund.

"I've seen performances by Le Gateau Chocolat and he has an amazing voice. The costume and staging is always incredible.

"He is humourous but also delves into some difficult issues while also making it a fun night out. He's just one of those intimate performers who can hold the audience in the palm of his hand.

"We would absolutely love to have him back at Brighton Festival as soon as we can."

The grant was awarded to Mr Ikediashi's business, Le Gateau Chocolat Ltd, which employs workers to produce shows.

It means the performer's company was awarded a bigger grant from the Culture Recovery Fund than some Brighton venues, including the Hope and Ruin, who received just over £50,000.

Some critics have questioned why one act should receive more money than other arts venues and organisations who missed out on grants.

Speaking on LBC Radio, host Nick Ferrari asked Chief Secretary to the Treasury Stephen Barclay: "Why does one act qualify for almost a quarter of a million pounds? 

"There are many theatres who have had not a penny, there are comedy clubs that are closing and Zippo's Circus, with 30 employees, gets £600,000.

"Are you completely happy that one fellow walks away with £215,000?"

Mr Barclay said that Arts Council England is responsible for allocating grants to arts organisations, but said that the grant to Le Gateau Chocolat "sounds odd".

He said: "I would want to put the question to the Arts Council and those administrating the scheme to better understand what has happened."

A spokesman for Arts Council England said: "One of the ambitions of the Culture Recovery Fund is to support a broad range of organisations, no matter what their size, to reopen and deliver work for audiences. 

"Awards of all scales and sizes have been made, but in all cases the awards are proportionate to the needs of the organisation.

"Le Gateau Chocolat is a leading black and LGBTQ+ performer, and one of the few performers in Britain whose work spans across multiple art forms, including drag, cabaret, opera, musical theatre and live art. 

"With this funding Le Gateau Chocolat Ltd will put on a number of planned shows, which would involve employing a range of freelancers to produce and deliver work.”

Le Gateau Chocolat is next due to perform in A Night at the Musicals with fellow drag queen Jonny Woo at Chichester Festival Theatre on November 13 and 14.