Northern Ireland news

Arts and cultural partnership in Covid-19 support appeal

The MAC Theatre in Belfast is among venues to endorse the five step plan sent to ministers

Arts and culture representatives are appealing to ministers to bring forward a package of measures to help the sector survive the Covid-19 crisis.

A grouping that includes the Arts Collaboration Network, venues, freelance artists, producers and community-based organisations, has sent a paper to communities minister Deirdre Hargey and finance minister Conor Murphy as well as the Executive Office.

It is calling for a hardship fund to support and sustain freelancers and self-employed artists who have fallen through the gaps in existing government support.

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It is also seeking support for the self-employed, a 'stabilisation fund' for arts organisations and rescue package for venues.

It is estimated that £24 million is required to sustain the sector through a prolonged closure period.

Margaret Henry of Arts Collaboration Network said the sector was "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," she said.

"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.

"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."

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