Cultural Recovery Fund – essential support making a difference

“Arts and Culture in Wales must survive this pandemic” says Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism.

The Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund is providing essential support to theatres, music venues, heritage sites, libraries, museums, galleries, archive services and independent cinemas, right across Wales – which have all experienced a dramatic loss of revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

To date more than £30m has been distributed through the Welsh Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund, with the Arts Council of Wales allocating a £20m package for the sector in October.

The Welsh Government launched the first Freelancer Fund in the UK, deciding to include freelancers as a key part of the Cultural Recovery Fund recognising the essential role they play in the economy and in creating and delivering cultural experiences. It has so far supported 2,800 freelancers with £7million, new applications through phase 3 will be approved soon.

The Freelancer Fund has supported a wide range of freelancers in the creative sector.  Eifion Porter, a craftsman supporting set designers, visual artists, cultural and heritage venues from Swansea said. “I have been working within the cultural sector for the last 10 years and collaborate with visual artists and theatre companies, as well as supporting museums and community organisations by designing and creating bespoke displays for interactive exhibitions. Since lockdown all of my projects immediately stopped, and I have not had any income since. The support of the Freelancer Grant has been a lifeline during a very uncertain time, and I’m grateful that the Welsh Government has considered the different types of creative freelancers during this pandemic.”

The Cultural Recovery Fund has given many an opportunity to plan ahead and look to the future.   Henry Widdicombe, Machynlleth Comedy festival said: “The award of Cultural Recovery Funds by Welsh Government, put simply, is the difference between our organisation surviving the pandemic and not. The arts wholesale lost their ability to operate overnight earlier this year, and the faith placed in us through this fund mean that we will be able to return when it is safe and legal to do so, and gives us the ability to forward plan for when events can take place again. We welcome all support for the arts in Wales and have hope that the sector can survive this thanks in large part to the distribution of these funds.”

The Nantgarw China Works is using funding to continue with its online offer.   The Chairman of the Nantgarw China Works Trust, Dr. Eurwyn Wiliam, said “Welsh Government grants through the Federation of Welsh Museums and Business Rates grants via the local authority have enabled us to meet our fixed outgoings for the year and so survive, but the Wales Cultural Recovery Fund has been a God-send for us in looking to the future. Our visitors and the classes that we run in pottery, fused glass and botanical painting are our major income streams and the projects that this grant will fund will enable us to enhance our marketing and offer on-line tuition for those unable to attend the site in person.”

Grassroots music venues have also benefited from the fund,  Alex Luck, Owner of Diablos SA1, grass roots music venue which promotes young welsh talent in the SA1 area of Swansea, said: “With the support of Welsh Government and the Creative sector’s engagement Diablos SA1 now has a future and has given me and my staff the enthusiasm to open partially and prepare to promote live music post Covid, this opportunity given through the funding has been a game changer for the business and  has given the venue a chance to diversify and give my employees confidence and a future within this industry.”

Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “In Wales, we want to do everything possible to ensure our arts, culture, heritage and creativity survive this pandemic. In recognition of how hard the sector has been hit, we have also invested an additional £10.7m to provide further help to reach as many parts of the sector as possible. This takes us well beyond the £59m consequential received from the UK Government in July highlighting the value we put on the sector’s contribution to Welsh life and the wider economy – and that must continue in the future.  We recognise that we’ll need the professionalism, experience, enthusiasm and vison of these professionals to help us come together and rebuild after the public health crisis has abated.”