Freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors in Wales will be able to apply for their share of a £7m fund – which is targeted specifically at those in the freelance sector hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The fund will open for applications on Monday 5th October and will run over two phases. Individuals can apply for a £2,500 grant and are asked to check their eligibility before the application process opens by visiting the Eligibility Checker for the Cultural Recovery Fund. Further information on the scheme including guidance and a set of frequently asked questions will be made available before the Fund launches.
The fund will be open to freelancers in the sub sectors of arts, creative industries, arts and heritage events, culture and heritage, whose work has direct creative/cultural outcomes.
Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Lord Elis-Thomas, said: “The freelance sector is such an important part of the Welsh economy – with a significant number of freelancers working in the cultural and creative sectors. I’m delighted that we’re able to provide support – to sustain our freelancers during this difficult period and acknowledge the contribution made by these individuals to the economy, our communities and the cultural and creative sectors in Wales.”
Siân Gale from Bectu Cymru, said: “The last six months have been particularly hard for those working across the creative sector, many have been unable to access the UKs Job Retention Scheme or the Self Employment Income Support Scheme so this funding is an absolute lifeline for our members in Wales. Although the TV and Film industry is gradually getting back to work this is not the case for creatives working in theatres and live events who have not only helped make the creative industries one of the most economically and culturally successful sectors in Wales but have a huge positive impact on the wellbeing of our communities.”
Wales Freelance Taskforce, said: “Our recent study showed that over a third of freelancers in the cultural sector do not have sufficient income to live on. Live performance and event spaces were the first to close and will probably be the last to fully re-open. We welcome the Welsh Government’s acknowledgement of the value and contribution of the cultural sector’s freelance workforce in Wales. We hope this fund will help freelancers survive this crisis. We think that going forward the freelancer pledge has potential to support the workforce and our communities to meet their full potential.”
In further support of the freelance sector, the Welsh Government is working on a Freelancer’ Pledge, which is a first for the UK.
The Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies in Wales to contribute towards a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language as well as think about the long-term impact of their decisions, to work better with people, communities and each other. The Freelancer Pledge presents an opportunity for creative freelancers and public services to forge a partnership to achieve this and for freelancers to use their skills to bring creativity and imagination to all areas of public life.
As we develop our recovery plans and aspirations, the Freelancer Pledge reaffirms Wales’ commitment to involving the creative sector in how we build back better.
Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, Sophie Howe, called for support for creative freelancers in the summer. She said the fund could form the basis of future schemes where the government provides a safety net on incomes with an option for individuals to participate in work within the community. She said: “This is a big opportunity for culture to play a large role in Wales’ Covid recovery. The optional pledge to work with public services will allow creatives to help build art and culture into everything from hospitals to town centres, improving the way we all live. This is hopefully the start of us moving towards a system where much more value is placed on culture and creativity – better supporting those who do that vital work.”
The partnership work could include co-creating solutions with the community, contributing to local development plans, re-designing town and city centres or bringing new approaches to capital projects. This could be in all areas such as culture through to health or sustainable development and the built environment etc.
The detail of the Freelancer Pledge will be designed over coming months in partnership with the freelancer community and unions. The Pledge will be a voluntary element of the support, and will not be a condition of grant. Support and training will be available to freelancers who wish to participate. Any work conducted as part of the Pledge will be remunerated.