Artists, galleries, museums and theatres will be supported during the current coronavirus pandemic with £160 million emergency fund, Arts Council England has confirmed.
The ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease was first officially identified in December 2019 in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei in China. As of March 26th, more than 478,341 cases of COVID-19 have been officially confirmed but the actual number is thought to be much higher due to substantial under-reporting of cases.
With more than 21,524 people having died from the virus, COVID-19 has now spread into more than 180 other countries—including mainland Europe, South America and North America. Given the exponential growth in cases in countries like Italy, Spain and the UK, the WHO have now stated that Europe was the current centre of the pandemic.
As the government step up its strict social distancing measures, all galleries and independent venues were forced to close which risks financial ruin with artists and freelancers the worst hit. Now, in an attempt to ease the difficulties, Arts Council England has generated a £160 million emergency fund to support those in need.
“We will offer individuals and organisations working in the cultural sector new financial support during this crisis, totalling £160 million,” a statement reads. “We’ve re-purposed all our investment strands to be able to offer this support. These emergency funding streams will be open to applications very soon.”
The fund will be split into different categories with £90m of the cash being handed to National Portfolio Organisations, £50m to organisations outside that scheme and £20m to individuals which will be split into grants of £2,500 per person.
“We will be making £90 million available to NPOs. We hope organisations will use this funding to reboot their creative work, but we also understand it may be required to alleviate financial pressures on NPOs,” the statement reads. “We want to support artists, creative practitioners and freelancers as best we can in this crisis. We’re making £20 million of financial support available to individuals, so they can better sustain themselves, and their work, in the coming months.”
Sir Nicholas Serota, chair of Arts Council England, told the BBC: “Covid-19 is having an impact globally, far beyond the cultural sector – but our responsibility is to sustain our sector as best we can, so that artists and organisations can continue to nourish the imagination of people across the country, both during the crisis and in the period of recovery.
“None of us can hope to weather this storm alone, but by working together in partnership, I believe we can emerge the stronger, with ideas shared, new ways of working, and new relationships forged at the local, national and even international level.”