Arts Collaboration Network welcomes COVID funding

Calls for urgent talks on long term future for arts and culture sector in Northern Ireland.

The Arts Collaboration Network and NI Venues Group welcome the allocation of £10m from ACNI Stability and Renewal Fund, announced today. This funding is drawn from the £33m emergency funding for arts, heritage and culture in NI which was initially announced in July 2020 following the Government’s £1.57bn investment to support the whole sector throughout the UK deal with and survive the impacts of Covid 19.

The ACNI Stability & Renewal Fund was announced with a £7.75m budget, and received eligible bids for £24m from venues and organisations across Northern Ireland including the commercial sector. We welcome that today’s announcement sees the fund increased to £10m in recognition by Minister Hargey and the Department for Communities of the needs of the sector which the Department recognised today had been ‘disproportionately impacted’ by the pandemic. The Fund, as with all other Covid programmes to date, was very significantly over subscribed which serves as an ongoing illustration of the severity of the situation faced by the Arts & Culture sector locally.

Alongside the funding it is equally important that the NI Executive, the Minister, DfC officials and stakeholders start to work with the sector to plan for long term cultural renewal and the survival of the arts and culture ecology in Northern Ireland.
We have outlined a series of much needed actions to ensure the cultural sector survives beyond the pandemic and is in a position to truly contribute to the long term social and economy recovery of NI and its citizens.

In January we submitted Culture Beyond Covid, our paper which sets out steps to address the long term strategic needs across the cultural sector including individual artists and creatives, organisations including venues as well as the public.

These steps require immediate attention from the NI Executive and the Minister for Communities and we urge engagement and action to plan for the post Covid era and avoid the permanent loss of our valued and valuable cultural sector.