A brand new hardship fund aimed specifically at freelancers who work in the creative and culture sector in Manchester and who have been adversely affected by Covid-19 has been announced.

Thanks to the generosity of Manchester based charity The Savannah Wisdom Foundation and B&M Retail PLC, from next week freelancers, including artists, will be able to apply for a one-off grant to help tide them over.

The Foundation has created a discretionary fund – the Cultural Sector Hardship Fund for Freelancers – to support freelancers working in the creative and cultural sectors who are facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic.  It is making up to £500,000 available in grants of £1,500 to individual freelancers.

Applications for support from the fund are open to all Manchester residents who are usually employed in a freelance capacity in the creative and cultural sectors – including music, theatre, dance, combined arts, visual arts, museums, literature, creative industries, and heritage culture – and whose work contributes to direct creative or cultural outcomes.  Greater Manchester residents who can show most of their work is normally in Manchester are also eligible to apply.

The grants are designed to assist those whose freelance work has been lost or disrupted because of Covid-19 and who are experiencing hardship because of reduced demand for, or capacity to deliver their services, or because the part of the sector they work in is temporarily unable to trade – which may be due to local or national lockdown measures, social distancing requirements, or loss of trade.

With the nation in yet another lockdown and venues still closed, the future remains uncertain for many cultural organisations and the freelancers who work with them.

Theatres, libraries, museums, and arts centres were amongst the first to have to close their doors to the public last March at the start of the pandemic  – and for many who work in the sector this brought a stop to their income and livelihoods.

The Savannah Wisdom Foundation has asked Manchester City Council to administer the scheme on their behalf and to assist the application and decision-making process.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Executive Member for Culture, Skills and Leisure, Manchester City Council, said: “Our unrivalled arts and culture scene is what makes Manchester such a great vibrant place to be and is recognised the world over – each year helping bring thousands of visitors into the city.

“This scene would be nothing however and simply wouldn’t exist without the crucial community of skilled and talented individuals – usually freelancers – who make all the magic on stage and in cultural venues happen.

“Without them Manchester simply does not have a cultural offer. They’re the reason this valuable part of our local economy exists. They are a vital part of the supply chain of our culture sector, whether that’s music, theatre, dance, combined arts, visual arts, museums, literature, or other creative industries.

“It’s fantastic therefore to be able to announce – thanks to the amazing generosity of the Savannah Wisdom Foundation and B&M Stores – this brand new cash help for freelancers in the cultural sector in Manchester who we know have been particularly badly hit by the pandemic financially.


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