– unique culture partnership calls on Executive Ministers to rescue the sector –
Representatives from across the Arts & Culture sector in Northern Ireland have made a direct appeal to the Northern Ireland Executive to bring forward a package of measures which will help the sector survive the current Covid-19 crisis.
The grouping, which includes the Arts Collaboration Network, arts venues, freelance artists & workers, theatre producers, community-based arts organisations and Festivals & Events, has sent a paper to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and Finance Minister Conor Murphy as well as the First and deputy First Ministers. This outlines the contribution made by the Arts & Culture sector to life in Northern Ireland, and what is needed to ensure the sector is still in place on the other side of the current crisis. With positive impacts on hospitality and tourism, as well as its role in citizens’ health & well-being, social regeneration and bringing communities together, the arts are essential to the social and economic recovery from Covid-19.
The paper has set out 5 needs of the sector:
1. Immediate Hardship Fund for individuals within the workforce to support and sustain the freelancers and self-employed artists who create so much of our work and who have fallen through the gaps in existing government support;
2.Support for the self-employed and employees through the continuation and extension of the Job Retention Scheme & SEISS Scheme
3.Stabilisation Fund for arts organisations;
4.Rescue Fund for venues;
5.Cultural Sector Recovery Plan which is co-ordinated across the sector including the creation of a NI Cultural Taskforce.
It is estimated that £24million is required to sustain the sector through a prolonged closure period.
Speaking on behalf of the wider group Margaret Henry from audience development agency Thrive said:
“Colleagues from across the sector have worked together to assess the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the arts, our people and our ability to continue to enhance life in Northern Ireland in the midst of the necessary restrictions which have been placed on life here.
“The arts and culture sector in Northern Ireland is right at the heart of our society. Our work supports the regional economy, drives tourism, contributes to the health and wellbeing of our community and brings people together in an inspirational way. Can anyone imagine life without the arts in this part of the world? That is what we are facing in the absence of a meaningful financial intervention by the Executive as outlined in our five needs. We also need to urgently begin a recovery plan and we want to see a Northern Ireland Cultural Taskforce put in place to drive that planning.
“The current crisis has led to more collaboration and constructive support across the sector than many of us have ever seen before, and we are making this urgent request with a united voice, engaging with as many diverse voices as we can. We believe local Ministers do value the arts, as they have stated in the past and we acknowledge the pressures they face as they manage the fallout from the Covid-19 crisis. We need an urgent engagement and we hope to meet with the Ministers for Communities and Finance, and the First and deputy First Ministers within days to outline and discuss our needs.
“We are determined that the arts and culture sector not only survives this crisis but can be safeguarded in the long term for the good of all, and a vital part in the recovery of society in Northern Ireland.”
You can read the entire recovery document here – NI-Arts-and-Culture-Recovery_Final