ACE announces £160m fund to support culture organisations during COVID-19 outbreak
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ACE announces £160m fund to support culture organisations during COVID-19 outbreak

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Our responsibility is to sustain our sector as best we can so that artists and organisations can continue to nourish the imagination of people across the country
Nicholas Serota, ACE chair

Arts Council England (ACE) has responded to the "massive and unsustainable loss of revenues" caused by COVID-19 by announcing an emergency £160m (US$191.2m, €176.4m) emergency funding package.

ACE says that the funding is being made available to help cultural organisations, freelancers and individual artists during the epidemic.

As well as preventing arts organisations from going bust, the fund – which is coming from a combination of ACE's emergency reserves and a suspension of national lottery project grants – is also intended to help them "buoy the public" with creative ideas during the lockdown.

The fund has been split into several parts. The first will use £20m (US$19.2m, €17.6m) to support freelancers and creative practitioners, with individual artists granted up to £2,500 (US$3,000, €2,700) from that pot.

A further £50m (US$59.7m, €55.1m) will go towards the support of culture organisations not in the national portfolio, with these organisations able to apply for grants of up to £35,000 (US$41,800, €38,600) to get back on their feet or continue making work in the future.

The final £90m (US$107.6m, €99.2m) will be put towards the 828 organisations that are included in the national portfolio. There is no financial cap for these organisations, which can now also request a six-month advance on current grants.

ACE has also delayed the next investment process for organisations who receive regular core funding. The process for 2022-26 was due to begin in Q3 this year, but now the current portfolio will be rolled over for an extra year to 2023.

"COVID-19 is having an impact globally, far beyond the cultural sector – but our responsibility is to sustain our sector as best we can, so that artists and organisations can continue to nourish the imagination of people across the country, both during the crisis and in the period of recovery," said ACE chair, Nicholas Serota.

"None of us can hope to weather this storm alone, but by working together in partnership, I believe we can emerge the stronger, with ideas shared, new ways of working, and new relationships forged at the local, national and even international level."

Funding will be available by 30 March, with payments made within six weeks.

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