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Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers

Monday 27th April 2020 at 8am 0 Comments

Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers Image: Arts Council opens emergency programme for artists and performers

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland today (Monday 27th April) opened a funding programme to support artists and performers during the COVID-19 crisis. The Artists Emergency Programme (AEP), worth £500,000, offers freelance artists, creative practitioners and performers the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £5,000 each.

The Arts Council’s National Lottery funding will be used to support the research, design and future presentation of arts events and performances, including resources to help artists develop their creative practice. The AEP fund provides much needed financial support and employment, a lifeline to artists, at a time when the arts sector has been decimated under quarantine conditions, venue and gallery closures, festival and event cancellations and the disappearance of live audiences.

The Arts Council’s Artists Emergency Programme is one element of the £1.5m funding package recently announced by Minister Hargey, Department for Communities, to support the arts and wider culture sectors during the current pandemic. Other measures will be rolled out to support arts organisations, libraries and museums in the coming weeks.

Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey MLA said:

"The Arts Sector is facing many barriers, this fund will offer equality of opportunity and access for a broad range of people. I have asked my Department to continue to do everything possible to provide support and assistance to individuals and groups in the Arts Sector at this time. I am also grateful to the Arts Council for working with my Department in responding to the needs of the sector."

Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“We welcome the Minister’s announcement of new funding to support the arts and culture sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic and we hope to allocate that as quickly as possible. The Artists Emergency Programme we opened today forms an important strand of the Minister’s package; one that targets our individual artists who are in urgent need at this time. Our artists are among the most creative, flexible and inventive members of our society and many are already finding brilliant, imaginative and innovative ways to deliver their art, but the impact of the pandemic on their working lives has been both severe and immediate.

“The Artists Emergency Fund, worth £500,000 of National Lottery funding, will help support efforts to develop their vocations and find new ways to bring colour, meaning and inspiration to our lives at a time when many of us need it most.  The scheme is open for Expressions of Interest and we hope to see  inventive ideas that imagine how artists’ practice can advance in better times’ while  also engaging in the future with audiences and participants in a meaningful way.”

The rolling AEP programme will open for applications Monday 27th April, until further notice, for proposals ending March 2021. The Arts Council will endeavour to have decisions made within two weeks of receipt of proposals. Expression of Interest forms and guidance notes are available at

The Arts Council is working to bring forward the opening of its revised Support for Individual Artists Programme (SIAP) for 2020 to the month of May. This programme is also funded by the National Lottery and will focus on General Arts Awards and commissioning opportunities.

For more information on the financial impact of the Coronavirus on the NI Arts Sector (April 2020) visit


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