Freelance arts and culture workers based in Sheffield are set to benefit from cash support to develop their creative and business practice thanks to funding from Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Culture Consortium members, including the University of Sheffield, Sheffield Hallam University, Museums Sheffield, Sheffield Theatres and Site Gallery.
The fund will provide small grants ranging in size from £500 to £2000 to support Sheffield-based freelance arts and culture workers to adapt their businesses and develop their creative practice through research and development, training or upskilling and creating new work.
The fund has been developed in response to a survey of freelance workers in Sheffield’s arts and culture sector conducted by the University of Sheffield, which highlights the huge impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on those working independently in the cultural industries. Evidence suggests that freelance workers have been largely ineligible for grant support schemes with many respondents expressing concern about the dramatic decline in work and loss of income from royalties, commissions, revenue and ticket sales as a result of the pandemic.
Freelancers often work multiple jobs and rely on regular work as artist facilitators, teachers, performers or technicians across Sheffield’s cultural venues - this has been severely affected as organisations have closed in line with Government guidance and many workers are now looking at empty diaries with no bookings for the future. Many respondents were actively pursuing work outside the creative sector and wanted to see grants that allowed for the creation of new work and the opportunity to explore new ideas.
This fund, which has a total value of £50,000, will offer up to 60 grants to support workers across the arts sector. To qualify, freelance workers will need to demonstrate their eligibility and must live in Sheffield.
Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks and Leisure at Sheffield City Council said: “Sheffield is a city built on creativity and innovation, boasting some of the best cultural and arts venues in the country. During the pandemic the whole sector and those who work in the creative field have taken a huge hit economically and productively.
“It’s inspiring to see so many people and businesses adapt to new ways of working, and how they have come together to support each other, but we know that more support is essential to aid the recovery of Sheffield’s cultural industry. We can’t help everybody, but this funding will go some way towards supporting our creatives and the future of our city’s cultural offer. I would like to thank the collaborative efforts of our partners, Sheffield Culture Consortium, Sheffield Business Recovery Group and the Sheffield Culture Collective for making this possible and encourage those who are eligible, to apply.
Councillor Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “Freelance workers have been one of the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic, despite the vital role they play in both our local economy and Sheffield’s identity as a haven for independent and creative businesses. It’s so important that they are supported to get back on their feet as the city begins to recover, and I’m very pleased that the Council has been able to work with our partners to help achieve this. I would urge people who are eligible to apply for the grant at the earliest opportunity.”
Professor Vanessa Toulmin, from the University of Sheffield commented: "The freelancers in the arts and creative economy are the very essence of what makes Sheffield a rich vibrant and cultural city. The research from the University has demonstrated the impact Covid has had on their ability to work and the consequences of this for their lives and careers. This is a small but important step in helping them to help Sheffield recover".
Kim Streets, CEO of Museums Sheffield and Chair of Sheffield Culture Consortium said: "These grants will bring much needed support to enable freelance workers to adapt their business and develop their practice so that they can continue to create great work and be in a good position to respond to new projects and commissions as the UK begins to recover. We’re hugely grateful to Sheffield City Council, members of the Business Recovery Group and Sheffield Culture Collective for supporting this vital initiative. It’s a small pot but an important one, and we anticipate that it will be very competitive – we know we’ll receive many more applications than we can fund. Nevertheless, this is a positive step and we hope it makes a difference".
To find out more about the fund, and to apply, go to: Funding for Art + Cultural Workers in Sheffield - Visual Arts Sheffield (visual-arts-sheffield.com)