/ Sector News

Minister announces £4 million lifeline for the arts

The Minister is pictured with Claire Murray, Head of Development and Marketing at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast and local actor Sean Kearns.

1st July 2020

Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín today announced a major £4 million lifeline for the arts sector as part of the Executive’s June Monitoring round.

The additional funding will provide a much-needed boost for the sector including musicians, performers and cultural workers, arts venues and museums as they rebuild for the future following the devastating impact of Covid-19.

And it is part of an additional almost £23 million package that the department will receive, including almost £4 million for the Housing Executive to help tackle homelessness, £4.5m for the Community Support Fund and £2 million for the sports sector.

Speaking from the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, the Minister said:  “Today’s announcement of £4m additional Executive Funds to help arts and culture organisations recover and rebuild comes as we are beginning to move towards safe and phased re openings of libraries and museums.

“This pandemic has exposed the financial vulnerability of our arts and cultural organisations, many of whom are household names. As an immediate next step I intend to engage directly with organisations to agree the detail of how the funds might best be put to swift use.

“The huge part the arts play in all our lives has come into sharp focus through the closure of theatres, concert halls and other venues during this terrible pandemic and the cancellation of so many shows and arts programmes.

“And when arts and culture organisations suffer, so too does our economy.  These organisations employ thousands of staff directly and indirectly, they attract tourists and help support our hospitality industry.”

The Minister added:  “In the coming weeks, I intend to widen the conversation about what kind of creative future we want here. I am encouraging performers, audiences, businesses, and political parties to join me in those conversations about a creative future that is fair and inspiring.”

Explaining what the £4.5 million for the Community Support Fund will be spent on, the Minister explained that Deirdre Hargey had established a COVID Community Support Fund in April 2020 to support the vital role that grassroots voluntary and community sector groups play in supporting individuals and communities during the pandemic. The Fund was distributed to councils via the existing Community Support Programme. She said: “It is vital we continue to support the ongoing efforts of grassroots community groups undertaking Covid-19 response actions, such as access to food, supporting vulnerable and isolated people and connecting communities.”

Commenting on the £2m secured for the sports sector the Minister said:  “Our local sports sector has also faced serious financial challenges as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.  To date £1.25m has been committed to the Sports Hardship fund which is assisting hundreds of clubs as they deal with the immediate impact the crisis has had on them.

“Securing this additional £2m demonstrates my commitment to ensuing the sustainability of sports Governing Bodies, clubs and sporting organisations at every level, from grassroots to those who compete at an international level, and to help the sector overcome some of the financial challenges ahead.  This funding will help ensure that people and communities can get back to enjoying their sport safely as the restrictions on the sector gradually ease.”

Finally the Minister explained how the almost £4 million for the Housing Executive will help tackle homelessness.  She said: “I am very aware that homeless households are often some of the most vulnerable in society and the current pandemic creates particular risks for these individuals.  This funding will be used to assist them.  The Housing Executive, Health services and homelessness providers have worked very closely to protect this very vulnerable group throughout this time.  I want to pay tribute to this work, and to ensure this collaboration is reinforced and built on.

“This additional funding I have secured will ensure the continuation of the work to protect the homeless during this time, enable the transition to a more permanent solution for those currently accommodated in B&B/Hotels, provide support for those who have started to engage with homelessness services, and make preparations to handle any second peak of infections which may occur.”


Arts Collaboration Network Welcomes Lifeline for the Arts

The Arts Collaboration Network, which briefed the Committee for Communities on 24th June, responded to today’s announcement:

“The Arts Collaboration Network welcomes the announcement from the Minister for Communities of £4m from Executive Funds for a Cultural Resilience Fund to help arts and cultural organisations and individuals recover and start to rebuild. We also welcome her recognition of the role the arts play in job creation, well-being and supporting the tourism and hospitality sectors. We look forward to working with the Minister for Communities, colleagues across the sector, departments in the NI executive, communities and key stakeholders to develop a further investment package that supports the adaptation and renewal of the arts sector to realise its full contribution to the economic and social recovery of NI. Through continued collaboration and partnerships we can help build back a better NI for everyone.”