A £500,000 emergency programme for cultural organisations in Northern Ireland affected by Covid-19 has been opened by the country’s arts council.
Small and medium-scale organisations are eligible to apply to the Organisations Emergency Programme, with grants of up to £25,000 on offer.
Organisations can apply for up to £25,000 each in order to help them continue creating work or to assist in their operating costs where they have been impacted by the pandemic. The grants are also intended to help companies plan for recovery.
Arts Council of Northern Ireland said the funding stream would provide a "lifeline to arts organisations at a time when the arts sector has been decimated under quarantine conditions".
Chief executive Roisín McDonough said the impact of lockdown on the sector’s earned income had been "severe and immediate".
"Funding for the arts in Northern Ireland was already in a fragile state pre-Covid-19 and we estimate that since the pandemic, organisations are facing deficits just under £4 million; a figure that may increase as the year progresses," she said.
She added: "We hope this support will help buy them creative time to produce new ideas for programming, plan for recovery and help them withstand the shock to their organisation of substantial loss of income during lockdown."
The £500,000 pot is part of a wider £1.5 million government funding package for Northern Ireland’s cultural sector.
Communities minister Deirdre Hargey 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 organisations 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."
The programme is open for applications now – for proposals covering the period between now and March 2021 – and closes on June 12.