Northern Ireland

Welcome for Covid funding for artists

Roisin McDonough from the Arts Council NI. Picture by Hugh Russell
Roisin McDonough from the Arts Council NI. Picture by Hugh Russell

ARTISTS will be able to "keep going and make that difference" following news they will be first to benefit from £29m for the arts sector.

Around £3m is being granted to individual artists as part of a Covid support scheme operated by communities minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

It will allow more than 1,000 people to be supported through funding of up to £5,000.

Ms Ní Chuilín said the money would be distributed through an existing programme administered by the Arts Council, which will this week be issuing letters of offer to people who applied to the Individual Emergency Resilience Programme (IERP) in August.

She said her department was also working with the arts, heritage, culture and language sectors to ensure the remaining £26m is "made available without delay".

Actor and playwright Maria Connolly is among those hoping to receive funding.

"Great news today for individual artists," she wrote on Twitter.

"The arts are making such a huge difference in people's lives right now this funding allows artists to keep going and make that difference."

Roisin McDonough from the Arts Council also welcomed the support.

"This is a year like no other and the massive volume of applications we received for financial support from individuals usually employed in the arts, culture and creative sectors spoke for itself," she said.

"Covid-19 has severely damaged the arts and culture eco-system and left the people who normally contribute to it and nurture it, without work or the means to create new work.

"As a result, the IERP was heavily oversubscribed.

"However, thanks to today’s announcement of an extra £3m of public funding for individuals, we are now able to provide IERP funding of £3,852,000 to all eligible applicants, reaching 1,089 people within these sectors and offer them the support to develop new skills and create new work."