Northern Ireland is set to receive £33m in funding from the UK government to protect and support the regions arts venues. UK museums, galleries, theatres and concert venues will also receive £1.57bn funding from the government to support the industry during the current pandemic crisis. The Arts Council in the UK has thanked the government for support and has been grateful to receive the lifeline to help the industry survive. The funding for Northern Ireland comes after members of the creative industry asked for support, saying that urgent financial aid was needed to ensure the survival of the industry.
The widespread closures during coronavirus have been devastating for many arts and culture venues throughout the UK and have pushed many to the brink financially. In Northern Ireland all theatres, galleries and music venues have been closed since the middle of March. Most staff have been stood down from their jobs for the time being as part of the governments retention program. However, the industry is heavily reliant on freelancers and self-employed artists, musicians and actors who are now out of work and don’t qualify for income support. When social distancing measures being to ease, most venues will likely still face restrictions on their capacity. Some predict that concerts and major festivals are not likely to resume until 2021.
The governments funding packages include loans and grants with the loans including generous terms. Heritage sites and independent cinemas will be eligible to apply for funding and loans. The funding represents some of the most significant investment the UK government has ever made in the arts and culture sector and is for the purpose of helping venues to survive whilst they are not allowed to open or welcome in the public. It has not yet been discussed how the funding will be spent and nothing has yet been said of whether the UK government will offer support to struggling artists who have lost work as a result of the closures.