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Coronavirus: Communities Minister explores £1m support for the arts sector

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Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

Freddie Parkinson

Sports Minister Deirdre Hargey

The creation of a new £1m fund is being explored to help artists, performers and creatives across the arts and cultural sector in Northern Ireland.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA made the announcement yesterday as she plans to support individual creatives in making work in new ways, including digital delivery, during the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Minister Hargey said: "I am exploring options to introduce a new £1m Covid-19 Creative Support Fund which will be a mechanism to support individual artists and institutions.

"The funding support will enable them to present work in new and innovative ways in the current climate, helping combat social isolation and wellbeing challenges.

"I will keep this funding amount under review.

"I have also authorised a donation of £10,000 to the GoFundMe 'Bread and Butter' initiative which has been created to support struggling artists to ensure that they are able to pay for food. This funding will support 50 artists through the initiative."

Welcoming the series of measures already announced by the Arts Council to relax funding conditions and exercise flexibility in respect of existing contracts, Minister Hargey said she wants to do more to ensure artists and the sector are supported.

The minister said: "I have asked the board of the Arts Council to act within a matter of days to give immediate security to organisations by rolling over 2019-20 grant awards into 2020-21 thereby enabling the advancement of payments.

"This, of course, will need to reflect programme requirements, and it will help provide reassurance and a higher degree of stability.

"The council itself will provide further detail."

The Sinn Fein MLA also paid tribute to those working in the arts and creative sector.

"I look forward to a day very soon when the libraries, the museums, the theatres, concert halls, community centres and craft fairs reopen.

"Until then, I know we can rely on the arts sector to continue to find creative ways to raise our spirits and touch our imagination during these difficult days," she said.

Belfast Telegraph