Welsh arts bodies receive £53 million of emergency funding

Welsh arts bodies like the Prince of Wales Theatre
Theaters such as the Prince of Wales, look to benefit from the cultural fund. Source: Geograph (Via Google Images)
By Dominic Williams | News Editor

The Wales Cultural Recovery fund has given £53 million to Welsh arts bodies, due to the impact from COVID-19. The new fund was announced by the Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Dafydd Elis-Thomas.

What is the Wales Cultural Recovery fund?
Jointly linked with the Welsh Government and the Arts Council for Wales, the central purpose of the fund is to maintain organisations that have been significantly affected by COVID-19. The fund looks at helping them resume activity in 2021 and securing their future beyond next year.

As with all sectors, the performing arts sector has had severe financial repercussions because of the impact of the coronavirus. Because of this, the Arts Council for Wales will allocate £25.5m of revenue funding, with an extra £2m capital going to arts organisations.

What are people saying about the Wales Cultural Recovery fund?
Nick Capaldi, Chief Executive of Arts Council of Wales has said,

‘’ This funding is the latest installment in an ongoing package of financial support to protect and defend cultural life in Wales.’’

While the Director of the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Dafydd Rhys, has welcomed the measures, he still has doubts over the timing of the recovery fund.

‘’ We hope that the timing of the fund is not too late for some but certainly it will be welcome in terms of securing a level of security in planning up to the spring of next year.’’

This is due to many Welsh arts bodies suffering large losses of income. Figures within the industry believe it could take years for revenue to return to pre-COVID levels. In addition to this, with limited capacity and social distancing rules, some sectors will simply not be viable in the current climate.

The funding comes after many venues experienced a huge drop in revenue due to no ticket sales and venues closing during the national lockdown. ACW’S Capaldi warned that, without extra funding, the performing arts industry could be in trouble after the end of the UK government’s furlough period in October.

What does this mean for the future of performing arts in Wales?
The ACW has claimed that those receiving support from the fund will be expected to deliver something back to the Welsh public. The Arts Council has labeled this the ‘’Cultural Contract.’’

The Cultural Contract aims to encourage organisations to transform the future reach and impact of their activities, improve diversity, provide new opportunities for freelance artists, commit to fair rates of pay, and to reduce their environmental impact. These all fall under the council’s aim to make sure the fund is deployed with a cultural and social purpose.

Phil George, Chair of Arts Council of Wales said:

‘’This funding will help artists and arts organisations – struggling to remain afloat – to avoid the immediate threat of financial collapse. This will be crucial in sustaining the arts as bringers of joy, imagination, healing and social cohesion – all of which will be deeply needed as we move through and beyond the pandemic.”

How will the funds be managed?

The ACW will be managing funds for concert halls, art centers, theatres, galleries, organisations producing and touring arts activities and organisations providing participatory arts activities.

The Welsh Government meanwhile will manage funds for grassroots music venues, heritage sites, local museums, libraries and archive services, events and festivals, independent cinemas, and individual freelance creative professionals.

The online eligibility checker opened on Tuesday September 1 and organisations can submit applications for support from September 14. The closing date for the scheme is September 30.

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