The Arts Collaboration Network is a group of cultural sector support organisations that have been meeting for over 3 three years and includes representatives from music, theatre and dance, visual arts, voluntary arts, disability artists, business support organisations and the broader creative sector. Each of these organisations have been supporting and communicating the needs and challenges faced by their members and consistencies during the Covid-19 crisis.
Since the current situation began the group has expanded to include additional voices and been meeting weekly to:
- Discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the NI arts and cultural sector in the immediate, medium and longer terms
- Ensure a collaborative response to raising urgent issues and identifying possible solutions with the wider sector, stakeholders and funders
As a result of meeting we have written to Arts Council NI and Department for Communities raising a number of sector-wide issues. In our most recent letter we requested the following:
- The creation of a hardship fund for freelance artists, creatives, technicians, costume-makers, creative facilitators offering a living wage. Those people who are the foundations of the sector but are least likely to benefit from the Job Retention Scheme and the Self-Employment Support Scheme.
- The creation of a stabilisation fund for arts organisations to ensure that they can continue to look after the welfare of their staff and work to offer opportunities to access the arts both in lockdown and in recovery.
- That the Dormant Accounts currently overseen by the National Lottery Community Fund, be considered as a way to fund this support.
- Discussion on how arts organisations can be supported to implement social distancing measures to fulfil requirements laid out in the expected Government plan to ease lockdown restrictions.
We asked for an urgent meeting with Department for Communities and Arts Council NI to discuss the above.
We will continue to meet to use our collective voices to amplify the issues we are all facing and that are being raised across the sector via networks, unions, umbrella bodies, organisations and individuals. We will reflect the mental health and well-being issues, as well as the economic ones that our sector, its artists, creative individuals and its audiences are experiencing during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Current Arts Collaboration Network members:
Margaret Henry, thrive, Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI, Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery, Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI, Jenna Hall, Belfast Community Circus School, Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah, Rob Hilken & Noel Kelly, Visual Artists Ireland, Jane Morrow, University of Atypical, Sara Jones, Creative and Cultural Skills, Sophie Hayles, Crescent Arts Centre, Katherine McDonald, Craft NI