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Lambeth launches fund to help arts and culture organisations

London SE1 website team

Lambeth Council has launched a £300,000 fund to help not-for-profit arts and culture organisations, including charities and social enterprises, survive the COVID-19 crisis.

The council's funding initiative has been backed by London deputy mayor Justine Simons and former Southbank Centre boss Jude Kelly.

"We have worked with our business improvement districts and other community partners to lobby government for better support for arts and cultural organisations facing very difficult times as a result of the COVID-19 crisis," said Cllr Sonia Winifred, Lambeth's cabinet member for equalities and culture.

"These organisations have an incredibly important place in the social fabric of our borough, and to see them unnecessarily go under as a result of the coronavirus would be a massive loss that may take years for recover from.

"So we have secured some limited funding from Government, and by using the council's own resources we are now able to open this Arts and Culture at Risk Fund for applications."

Among those invited to apply for the new grants are not-for-profit workspace providers that are supporting other creative organisations and artists that are not already benefiting from rent relief from the council.

The fund also aims to support arts and cultural organisations that rely on bringing people together in physical spaces – and as a result will really suffer under prolonged social distancing demands.

Reflecting the borough's diverse cultural sector, the council will be ensuring that at least 40 per cent of organisations benefiting will be BAME or female led.

Justine Simons OBE, London's deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, said: "COVID-19 is having a devastating effect on arts and culture so these funds are a real lifeline. Lambeth is showing great leadership with its continued commitment to supporting its cultural organisations, charities, workspaces and creative businesses, alongside its successful Creative Enterprise Zone.

"Through this pandemic we have seen the value of culture and creativity across society through drawing, poetry, music and more. Cultural organisations provide an important role supporting communities throughout the year and these grants will go a long way towards helping sustain them into the future."

The aim is that this support will help organisations who will struggle to recover once the coronavirus crisis recedes so that they can, in time, continue supporting our wider economy and residents. Supporting those not-for-profit workspace providers that are hosts for other creative organisations and artists will also be vital in Lambeth's recovery.  

Arts organisations in the borough have been encouraged to apply by British theatre director and producer Jude Kelly who was artistic director of the Southbank Centre and is now director of the WOW Foundation, which organises the annual Women of the World Festival.

She said: "Having been artistic director of one of Lambeth's major cultural centres for more than a decade I have seen the incredible diversity, creativity and commitment to the community of the many hard working and successful arts organisations in the borough.

"It's both tragic and potentially very damaging that as a result of this disease, which has taken lives, worsened isolation and exacerbated inequality, we could now lose many of the organisations who will be so valuable once we start to recover as a society from the outbreak.

"This funding could play an important role in ensuring the survival of Lambeth's arts and culture organisations, and I'd really encourage them to apply as well as support community lobbying efforts for proper government support."

The fund has been developed after local analysis found arts and culture organisations have been hard hit, despite robust and sustainable business models dependent on earned income and avoiding over-reliance on grant subsidy

It is part of the £4.2 million Lambeth Local Economy Hardship fund programme announced on 27 May.

Cllr Matthew Bennett, cabinet member for planning, investment & new homes, said: "Lambeth's arts and cultural sectors play a critical role in Lambeth's thriving local economy, creating new education, training and employment opportunities for our residents. They are also an important part in what makes our town centres, and Lambeth as a whole, so vibrant.

"We are committed to doing all we can when it comes to putting in place the support that will allow the most vulnerable sectors of our local economy bounce back once the coronavirus crisis has come to an end, and we embark on a new beginning."

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