A new £10million scheme has been launched by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey to support a range of sectors in their recovery from the impact of the pandemic, it has been confirmed.
The Covid Recovery Programme Employment & Skills Initiative will provide grant funding for the next three years to support individuals and not-for-profit organisations with costs for new or enhanced roles within the Arts, Heritage, Creative Industries, Sports and Voluntary and Community sectors.
Announcing the scheme, Minister Hargey said:
“This Employment & Skills Initiative will be focused on the creation of new, good quality, entry level jobs, or upskilling to increase the capacity and capability of existing staff. This should bolster organisations to better survive and thrive post pandemic, and therefore help stabilise these sectors to continue to deliver their services for the public good.
“It is in direct response to recommendations within the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Report 2021, which I commissioned and which urged me to take action to reverse the significant and ongoing impact of the pandemic on our not-for-profit creative sectors.
“I am delighted that I am able to respond with a multiyear investment; the first of its kind for these sectors.
“Through engagement with partners, distinct sectoral needs have been woven into the initiative to address, for example, the need to increase the participation of women in sport, and encourage people from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the creative industries.
“It is another significant investment from my department that is aimed at helping communities rebuild and reinvigorate following the immense difficulties caused by the pandemic.”
The initiative has been designed in close partnership with key partners in the Voluntary & Community, Sports, Arts, Heritage and Creative Industries sectors.
- Future Screens NI, a collaboration between Ulster University, Queen’s University and local industry partners, is working in partnership with the Arts Council and is calling for applications from arts organisations.
- The Heritage Fund is calling for applications from heritage organisations.
- The Rank Foundation is calling for applications from sports and voluntary community organisations.
- The BBC is working in partnership with NI Screen and will be working with partners to recruit aspiring new entrants to the creative industries.
Further information is available at Department for Communities or on the key partners websites and social media platforms.
The Initiative will fund the salaries and associated costs of new entry level employment opportunities and host organisations’ support costs in not-for-profit organisations for those of working age (18 years+). The scheme also aims to provide funding for training and upskilling of existing employees in key roles within the affected sectors, in an effort to incentivise staff to remain in and develop their career in these sectors and assist the sectors to fully recover from the impacts of the pandemic.
Notes to editors:
- In 2021 the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce, commissioned by Minister Hargey, provided significant insight and evidence into the immediate needs of these sectors post pandemic, and detailed how the systemic issues that existed before Covid-19 have been exacerbated.
- Information on the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce can be found on the Department’s website
- Recommendation 4 – Talent Acquisition, Retention and Development, focuses on the disruptive staffing impacts experienced on those who work in, or are considering a career in, the culture, arts and heritage sectors. NI is projected to lose 20% (or 6,000) of its jobs in these sectors, and the Arts Council has reported a 27% decline in freelance staff in their sector.
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