BBC News

Coronavirus NI: Emergency fund of £13m for NI arts and heritage

By Robbie Meredith
BBC News NI Education Correspondent

image copyrightLeonard Mc Lane/Getty Images
image captionTheatres, music venues, museums and other heritage sites across NI remain closed

Heritage sites and arts venues and organisations can apply for over £13m of emergency funding from Wednesday.

Museums, attractions, visitors centres and other heritage sites can seek up to £250,000 while arts venues and organisations can apply for grants of up to £500,000.

There is a total of £7.75m available for the arts and £5.5m for heritage.

The funding is part of £29m agreed by the executive for the cultural sector..

image copyrightHMS Caroline
image captionHMS Caroline in Belfast is shut to visitors until 2021

Many theatres, music venues, museums and other heritage sites are closed or running at limited capacity since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some will not be able to open again until 2021, while some which had reopened - like Northern Ireland's four biggest museums - are closed again until mid-November.

Future sustainability

The emergency funding scheme for heritage is being managed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) while the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) will manage the arts funding.

The NLHF Heritage Recovery Fund opens on Monday and will provide grants from £3,000 to £250,000 to organisations and sites to support their future sustainability.

Decisions on awards will be made in January 2021.

Individuals working in the sector will also be able to apply for grants of up to £5,000.

Museums, cathedrals and historic buildings have been among the recipients of emergency funding in a similar scheme in England.

image copyrightPacemaker
image captionMany NI festivals have been cancelled since the outbreak of Covid-19

Meanwhile, ACNI's scheme for arts venues and organisations will open for applications from 14:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Many performances and festivals have been cancelled since mid-March and venues have been closed.

Christmas pantomimes, for instance, which are often financially vital have already been called off.

Even when venues like theatres re-open they are likely to only be able to admit limited audiences.

image captionNI Arts Council says there is likely to be 'significant demand' for funds

More than £3m has already been spent to provide some income to more than 1,000 people who work in the arts.

The ACNI 'stability and renewal scheme' is aimed at organisations and venues facing financial deficits and at risk as a result of Covid-19.

Full details of how to apply for the funding will be on ACNI's website but the council said there was likely to be "considerable demand" for the funds.

Applications close on 27 November and decisions will be made by 29 January.

The funding is being distributed by the Department for Communities and Communities Minister Carál Ní Chuilín encouraged organisations to apply for each relevant fund, saying it aimed to help them from "collapse".

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