ACE Launches £65m lifeboat

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Arts Council England’s £65m rescue plan to keep afloat 10,000 organisations and individuals inundated by the worst effects of the Covid-19 shutdown was launched today.

The emergency response package was announced in March, aimed at alleviating the immediate pressure on artists, practitioners, organisations, museums and libraries. “The Arts Council has never awarded so many grants, in such a short space of time, to so many creative people” said its CEO Darren Henley.

£64.8m is being distributed today to 9,666 individuals and organisations, with £13.1m going to BAME individuals and BAME led originations, while £8.5m goes to disabled and deaf individuals or disabled-led organisations. Grants from the fund are going to 71.1% of those who applied, 81% of deaf-disabled applicants and 77.4% rom BAME individuals.

Among the successful applicants are:

Opal22 Arts and Edutainment (pictured), a Leicester-based organisation rooted in the local BAME community, working with young people through community centres and local partners – including both of Leicester’s universities, schools and cultural organisations like The Y and Curve Theatre – received £16,650 to help the organisation survive and develop online resources. “Receiving this funding from the Arts Council honestly gave us life” said Opal22’s creative director Tara Munroe. “We were really concerned if and how we’d be able to move forward in these ever-changing times.  All our work is community-based – if we cannot go into the community how could we survive? Receiving this grant allows us to find new avenues we could take and gain the skills we needed to understand the options available to us.”

Ventnor Exchange, a creative arts hub on the Isle of Wight with a theatre, record shop and craft beer bar, has been awarded £8,000 to cover core staff costs, as well as providing leadership and support for young people across the island through digital mentoring, training, opportunities and creative projects“We believe every part of the country deserves access to cultural activities and that everyone needs opportunities to be creative and express themselves” its director Jack Whitewood said. “Our idyllic surroundings disguise high levels of poverty, with our neighbourhood in the bottom 11% most deprived areas of England and we passionately believe grassroots organisations on the front line are best placed to make real and lasting change”. 

Deaf Rave, a London-based organisation working to promote disabled/deaf musical talent received £26,737 – allowing them to continue to exist and explore new ways to connect with the D/deaf community in their homes, who were plunged into a state of even deeper isolation during lockdown, both nationally and internationally.

Wisbech & Fenland Museum in Cambridgeshire, one of the country’s oldest purpose-built museums and in an area of low cultural engagement, has received £16,121 to help sustain its work by giving audiences the chance to digitally engage with its collection and enable staff to work remotely.

Company of Others in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who co-create dance experiences with diverse communities and delivered activities to 3,400 participants across the North East last year, have been awarded £34,937 to support the survival of the dance company. 

£50 million of the package goes to organisations outside of the Arts Council’s National Portfolio, with £47.7 million awarded to 2,182 organisations across the country. £90 million was also made available to support National Portfolio Organisations, with decisions on this funding currently underway, and another £4 million has been distributed to a series of Benevolent Funds supporting cultural workers, including musicians, stage technicians and conservators.



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