Freelance artists and creative professionals in Wigan Borough have been given a financial boost thanks to the council’s Covid-19 fund.
More than 35 freelancers in the borough have been supported with a share of almost £47,000 after Wigan Council launched their Freelance Creative Practitioner Covid-19 Fund last month.
Originally capped at £30,000, following a surge of quality applications, cabinet member for communities and culture, Coun Chris Ready, gave the green light for further investment. It means that the fund was increased by almost £17,000 in order to support even more of the borough’s talent.
Lucy Natalie, 30, is a freelance graphic and fashion designer working with UK fashion brands. She said: “A large portion of my work includes supporting brands and companies with promotional materials, which has been impacted by the virus due to lack of demand. Of the customers I have been able to retain, I have struggled to support the upfront costs needed to fulfil orders.
“Fashion and design have been a huge part of my life since childhood and my ultimate goal has always to become self-sufficient and have my own business. This grant will go a long way to help me get back onto a path I have set out to lead since a young age. It is only because of factors out of my control that have led me slightly off course. The money will help hugely and will allow me to hopefully expand. I’m so grateful for the money I’ve received from Wigan Council.”
The fund was earmarked for freelance artists in the borough who have been hit financially by the Covid-19 pandemic. One-off grants of between £500 and £1,500 could be applied for and was set up to ensure the future sustainability of the borough’s cultural scene.
More than 65 applications were received overall, from practitioners working in the visual arts, theatre, dance, design, film, photography and illustration.
Coun Ready said: “Culture is part of the Council’s Covid-19 recovery strategy, so it is important we do everything we can to support our cultural freelancers, who we know have found it difficult to access support during this crisis.
“Helping to stabilise the financial security of creative practitioners in the borough by investing in their practise will also ensure the long-term delivery our cultural manifesto, The Fire Within, which we know will help with social inclusion and health and wellbeing.
“We’re particularly committed to supporting our young freelance artists and other young people in the borough throughout this unsettling time as they are ultimately the leaders of our future.
“It was really difficult to assess the applications we received and we would have loved to have offered grants to everyone who expressed an interest, however, we are delighted that we were able to expand the pot in order to support as many people as possible.”