The Arts Council has announced that £2 million has been awarded to the Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians’ Financial Hardship Funding programme. The funds, which were set up in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic to provide vital support for freelance musicians and theatre workers, will each receive £1 million of Arts Council funding.
This investment follows on from £4 million distributed to a series of benevolent funds earlier in the year, as part of the Arts Council’s £160 million Covid-19 Emergency Response Package. This latest funding announced will focus on supporting a broad range of freelancers working in the performing arts, which will be the last elements of the cultural sector to fully reopen.
Individuals are also able to apply to National Lottery Project Grants, which is open for applications now, and to Developing Your Creative Practice, which will be relaunching in the autumn.
Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture, Arts Council England, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has had a huge impact on every part of our cultural sector, but individual artists and freelancers have been especially badly hit. Supporting them is a priority for the Arts Council, and we’re using our limited resources to help.
“We’re pleased to invest in the Theatre Artists Fund and Help Musicians’ Financial Hardship funding, which are providing a lifeline during this unparalleled crisis to thousands of professional musicians and theatre workers – including those from our most under-represented communities. We hope that our investment in these funds will also attract and encourage other creative industries organisations and donors to make much-needed contributions.”
Theatre Artists Fund, spearheaded by director Sam Mendes and established by Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre on 6 July with a £500,000 donation from Netflix, has raised a running total of £3.5 million. Round one of the fund provided easy access individual grants of £1000 to 1,600 practitioners across the UK. This investment from Arts Council England will launch Round Two, which has opened for applications and closes at 12pm on 10 September 2020.
Help Musicians launched its Financial Hardship Funding programme at the start of the Covid-19 crisis with £5 million from its own reserves (and to which the Arts Council contributed £900k via the Emergency Response Package). In phase one the fund offered grants of £500 to over 16,700 musicians, and phase two of the programme is currently providing monthly support from July to October to around 3,600 musicians. The Arts Council’s latest contribution will be used to support the launch of phase three in November.
Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre, said: “Theatre wants to take its place alongside restaurants, galleries, museums and cinemas in being a major contributor to the economic and social recovery of the nation, as well as entertaining our audiences and supporting our local communities. However, until we have a date for reopening theatres, as normal, thousands of our workforce remain in desperate need – that’s why this fund is so vital, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to Arts Council England for this transformative contribution.”