Theatres in Wales that have been forced to close their doors or are facing financial challenges due to coronavirus will be eligible for emergency relief grants thanks to a newly announced fund from the Welsh government.
The £500 million Economic Resilience Fund has been launched to help “plug the gaps” in the support schemes already announced by the UK government.
The fund will support businesses and charities across Wales of all sizes, including theatres and arts organisations, and it will focus on companies experiencing a sharp drop in income because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund comprises £100 million of loans, ranging between £5,000 and £250,000, for companies with immediate cash flow problems.
It also includes a £400 million emergency pot for companies of differing sizes.
Those with up to nine staff qualify for £10,000 grants, and those with between 10 and 249 employees will qualify for up to £100,000. Larger Welsh companies that are of “critical social or economic importance” will also be able to access support within the next two weeks, the Welsh government said.
First minister Mark Drakeford said that while recent announcements by the UK government provided “much-needed protection” for workers, more support was needed.
“Even with these interventions, there are elements of the economy, businesses and charities in Wales facing insolvency because fixed and operating costs – rent, residual salary costs, leasing charges for vital equipment and maintaining operations – cannot be met during this crisis.
“This package of support provides further assurance to firms, charities and social enterprises that we will do just that – help them deal with the economic impact of the pandemic.”
The Arts Council of Wales said it is continuing to work with the government to develop support for the Welsh cultural sector.
In a statement, it said: “We want to make sure that we do our very best to invest in artists and arts organisations at this difficult time. It’s clear that many people face a challenging and uncertain future with new difficulties presenting themselves daily. Our priority in the short-term has to be to find effective ways of responding to the most urgent needs and we’re working really hard, in collaboration with our Welsh government colleagues, to find practical solutions. We’ll share an update as soon as we’re able to.”
It comes as performers and creative practitioners in Northern Ireland move closer to receiving dedicated government support to survive the coronavirus crisis.
Communities minister Deirdre Hargey said she is planning to find ways to support individual artists and organisations, and is exploring the idea of a £1 million support fund.
She said this would “enable them to present work in new and innovative ways in the current climate, helping combat social isolation and well-being challenges”.
Hargey also said she had asked the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to give “immediate security” to organisations by rolling over 2019/20 grants into 2020/21, enabling advance payments.
“I look forward to a day very soon when the libraries, the museums, the theatres, concert halls, community centres and craft fairs reopen. Until then, I know we can rely on the arts sector to continue to find creative ways to raise our spirits and touch our imagination during these difficult days, evidenced by the recent pop-up gigs that many artists are hosting on social media,” she added.
This week, Creative Scotland unveiled its support package for the cultural sector, confirming £11 million of support for the arts.