New £5 million recovery fund opens to support individuals working in the arts and creative sectors

From The Arts Council of Northern Ireland:

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and the Department for Communities (DfC), have today (Wednesday 15 September) opened a new recovery funding programme, co-designed to support individuals in the Arts and Creative sectors retain valuable skills.

The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme (CIRP), worth £5 million from the Department for Communities, offers individuals the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £2,000 each. The programme is now open for online applications and will close at 12noon on Wednesday 6 October 2021.

Roísín McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The opening of the Creative Individuals Recovery Programme (CIRP) is welcome news, and we hope to allocate this funding as quickly as possible on behalf of the Department for Communities.

“The Minister’s funding initiative is designed to help individuals to continue with a creative career in Northern Ireland, to carry on developing important skills, many of which have taken years to develop.

“Indeed research demonstrates there is currently a significant risk that the talent pool of artists and creatives in Northern Ireland, needed to support our creative ecosystem, will disappear as individuals leave to find alternative work. That would take NI years to recover from, as these freelancers, artists and individuals are essential to the success of our creative industries.

“CIRP funding can help our creative individuals to positively contribute, as they did before the pandemic, to the significant cultural value of Northern Ireland as a great place to work, live and invest.”

CIRP funding aims to support one-off costs that are incurred by individuals working within the creative economy, helping them to re-engage with, or maintain their creative practice. Funding should help individuals and artists sustain and build the professional and technical skills, which are so important to the entire creative ecosystem.

This new programme will not replace loss of income for creatives as a result of the pandemic, nor will it support creative purpose relating to heritage or indigenous languages. CIRP will require applicants to undertake activity linked to their practice or art form.

Those eligible to apply include self-employed and freelance individuals working in the creative sector such as; artists, venue support staff, singer songwriters, session musicians, set designers, artists, DJs, actors, dancers, choreographers, musicians, rappers, writers, poets, editors, proof readers, crafts people, comedians, open mike performers, tutors, facilitators, creators, photographers, film-makers, touring crew, artist managers, promotors, lighting and sound technicians/engineers, other technical crew and support staff plus other creative practitioners who work in the creative industries.

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey, said,

“I have listened to the recommendations of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce and today I am launching a support scheme to provide grants to individuals to encourage them to remain in the creative arts sector.” (see the Minister’s full release here)

The CIRP is open for online applications from 12noon on Wednesday 15 September and will close at 12noon on Wednesday 6 October for grants up to £2,000. For full information on eligibility, guidance notes and to apply visit

The Department for Communities is developing separate support funds for arts and culture organisations, including those whose purpose relates to heritage and indigenous languages, and further announcements for separate awards for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent artists will be made soon.

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