Individual artists will be the first recipients to benefit from the £29m funding approved by the Executive earlier this month to support the arts, heritage, culture and language sectors as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín has given the green light for £3m of the funding to be immediately distributed to individual artists through an existing programme administered by the Arts Council.
The Department for Communities funding will allow more than 1,000 individual artists to be supported through grant funding of up to £5,000.
In addition, Minister Ní Chuilín has confirmed that a number of other funding streams, for other sectors also struggling as a result of the impact of Covid-19, will be launched before the end of the month.
The Minister said: “I wanted to get financial support on the ground at the earliest opportunity and I am therefore delighted that three weeks after the Executive announced that the Department would be receiving £29m for the arts, culture, heritage and language sectors, that 1,000 individual artists will receive vital assistance.
“Using this existing funding mechanism means that freelancers, musicians, actors, artists and craft workers within the creative economy will receive much needed financial support as health restrictions continue to severely curtail the arts sector – a sector that is a beacon in terms of the contribution it makes socially, creatively and economically to the lives of individuals, communities and wider society.”
The Minister added: “My officials are working at pace and in close collaboration with the arts, heritage, culture and language sectors to ensure the remaining £26m is made available without delay.
“I understand the difficult situation individuals and organisations across these sectors find themselves in at this extremely vulnerable time and I can assure them that final preparations are being made for these new funding streams and I expect to be able to make further announcements before the end of the month.”
The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) will be issuing letters of offer this week to individuals who had applied to the Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) in August, which was heavily oversubscribed.
Roisin McDonough, ACNI Chief Executive explained:
“The Arts Council welcomes today’s news of extra funding to support individuals working in the creative sectors and thanks the Minister and her Department. This is a year like no other and the massive volume of applications we received for financial support from individuals usually employed in the arts, culture and creative sectors spoke for itself.
“Covid-19 has severely damaged the arts and culture eco-system and left the people who normally contribute to it and nurture it, without work or the means to create new work. As a result, the Individual Emergency Resilience Fund (IERP) was heavily oversubscribed.
“However, thanks to today’s announcement of an extra £3m of public funding for individuals, we are now able to provide IERP funding of £3,852,000 to all eligible applicants, reaching 1,089 people within these sectors and offer them the support to develop new skills and create new work. Offers of IERP awards will be communicated this week.”