People working in the creative industries in Hull are being handed a “lifeline” as £1.6 million in grant support is handed out in the city.
Businesses in the creative industries who have been hit by the effects of coronavirus were last month urged to apply for funding from the Hull Business Discretionary Grant Fund.
Already, hundreds of applications have been submitted for the fund by small and medium-sized businesses and freelance workers in the city.
Hull City Council has so far distributed £1.6 million from the fund to more than 250 businesses across all sectors.
And the funding has been “essential” for some people working in the creative industries, according to one successful applicant.
Hull playwright, writer and producer Dave Windass, 54, applied for the funding after projects he was working on were cancelled due to the effects of coronavirus.
“Like many others, I’ve lost a lot of work as a result of Covid-19 and my income has been reduced significantly. Most events and projects I was due to be involved in have been cancelled, postponed indefinitely or scaled back beyond recognition. The grant provides an essential lifeline that will, for the most part, enable me to keep afloat in the short-term while we get some clarity around what the arts and cultural events will look like when things start to get back to something resembling normality.
“Most importantly, it buys me some time. I’ll use the time to plan for what’s on the other side, keep talking to arts organisations and other artists, supporting other people that work in the arts where I can and also to seek out opportunities in the future. So the grant puts me in a good, although not great, position.”
“All of my work is done on a freelance, self-employed basis and even at the best of times that means that work always has to be hard-fought for, or I have to create my own opportunities, and there’s very little in the way of stability and security.”
As thousands of people employed in the arts face the threat of redundancy, Dave said freelance workers are suffering from the knock-on effects of arts organisations closing.
He said: “Coronavirus has impacted us all in different ways. Personally, I’ve had enough of Zoom and online events. My mother died in a care home at the beginning of April so, given the difficult circumstances at the moment, that was very difficult to deal with.
“We’re probably looking at a long time before arts and cultural events return to the levels they were at before so it’s important that we reset now and come back stronger, together. So help in the form of these grants might look to make a small difference, on the surface, but actually they will keep Hull’s arts and culture intact.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of other people who work in the arts and we’ve compared notes. It’s the same story across the city for creatives. I think those that work in the arts are happy to acknowledge that, when we are working, we are extremely fortunate to work in such an exciting industry and we all have the best jobs imaginable. It’s not glamorous and nor is it well-paid but it’s an extremely privileged position to be in.
“But we have to face the sad fact that some freelance artists, and the many other freelancers who make arts and cultural events happen, will turn elsewhere in order to survive and will leave this industry.
“I’d really like to applaud the council, and the council’s arts development team, for widening the discretionary grants scheme and recognising that those that work freelance and self-employed in the arts in the city were slipping through the gaps of other support and emergency funding. This isn’t happening elsewhere so it’s really appreciated that Hull City Council has thrown their support our way.”
Councillor Daren Hale, deputy leader of Hull City Council, said: “The council has already distributed tens of millions of pounds in grant funding to help businesses hit by coronavirus, thanks in large part to our business support teams, who have done a fantastic job to distribute such a high amount of grants in a short period of time.
“The creative industries in Hull have been hit as hard as any by the economic effects of coronavirus. That’s why we are urging small businesses and freelancers working in the city’s creative industries to apply for help through this grant to ensure these businesses survive and thrive.”
Businesses can make an application by emailing email@example.com.
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