Struggling city arts organisations get a slice of £5m Arts Council cash for Yorkshire

Leeds Carnival Queen Tahiela Odain Hamilton is reflected in the glasses of Eleanor Claxton at last yea's Leeds West Indian Carnival..Picture by Simon HulmeLeeds Carnival Queen Tahiela Odain Hamilton is reflected in the glasses of Eleanor Claxton at last yea's Leeds West Indian Carnival..Picture by Simon Hulme
Leeds Carnival Queen Tahiela Odain Hamilton is reflected in the glasses of Eleanor Claxton at last yea's Leeds West Indian Carnival..Picture by Simon Hulme
Leeds West Indian Carnival, craft workspace and shop Fabrication and the Brudenell Social Club are just some of the city arts organisations and artists struggling with the impact of the coronavirus shut-down that have been handed a share of more than £5m in emergency funding.

In total, 738 individuals and independent organisations in Yorkshire will receive cash from Arts Council England’s emergency response fund, which was designed to help alleviate the immediate pressures faced by artists, organisations, museums and libraries over the summer.

In total, 553 Individual artists and creatives have received £1.2m of the money, with the remaining £3.8m split between 185 organisations.

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In Leeds, they include Leeds Lieder Festival, which receives £30,000, Leeds Print Workshops, which has a £15,000 grant, £18,000 goes to the East Leeds Project, MAP charity receives £25,000, Thought Bubble Festival receives £35,000, the Brudenell receives £23,600, and Yeadon Town Hall is to receive £35,000.

Dawn Wood at Fabrication. Picture: James HardistyDawn Wood at Fabrication. Picture: James Hardisty
Dawn Wood at Fabrication. Picture: James Hardisty

Leeds West Indian Carnival was granted £30, 824 to offset the financial challenges faced by cancelling this summer’s carnival .

It is the largest West Indian carnival street parade outside London, attracting up to 150,000 visitors.

The emergency response funding will help to replace the loss in income and ensure the charity is still sufficiently resourced to cover its monthly running costs, and also support the Leeds-based carnival designers.

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A carnival spokesperson told the YEP many of the designers had already bought materials and dedicated many hours to creating costumes before the decision was made to cancel.

She said: “These are mainly volunteers, whose houses are completely over taken by sequins, feathers and glitter. They have already bought materials, so what we want to do with the money is to support our designers in their artforms.

“We’re exploring ways in which we can still use their art in some way. We still want to bring our culture to the people of Leeds.”

She said the team were “extremely grateful” to the Arts Council for the grant.

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Fabrication, which has shops in Albion Street and in York, and a workshop space in Vicar Lane, was awarded £34,715.

It was the first time the organisation has applied to the Arts Council for support, after it was put “in real danger” of closing.

Founder Dawn Wood said Fabrication missed out on Government support for retailers by just one penny - and with no sales or income from workshops, was unable to pay £26,000 in rent for Leeds shop.

“We have lost something like £40,000 since March and were in real danger of closing,” she said. "We were already in the process of setting up a ‘click and collect’ option for online sales, and we managed to bring that in by mid-April, but it wasn’t enough to cover costs.

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“This grant means that we are now covered, both for the quarter that has passed and going forward, so if things are a bit quieter, we don’t need to worry. We’ve got something like 65 sellers in our shops, so it means their businesses are safe too.”

The Albion Street store is re-opening today, but it has also come with a cost, as shields have had to be fitted around tills.

Dawn, who is a freelance costume designer, said the Arts Council grants have been a real relief across the arts sector, for the many freelance artists and creatives who might otherwise supplement their incomes with bar and restaurant work, which is no longer possible.

“It is a really worrying time,” she said. “A lot of the work we thought we had - theatre productions that had been booked in for months, for example, simply no longer exist.

“The grants are a huge help.”

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Martha Julien, deputy director of Thought Bubble, said: "We are incredibly grateful to Arts Council England for the funding we have received to help us through what is an incredibly tough time for so many arts organisations. We can’t understate the importance of their support to us this year. Events and organisations like ours have a very small, seasonal time frame where they can earn income and we've seen so many of our friends lose a full year of revenue already.

"Arts Council England continues to do amazing work and we cannot thank them enough as we head into an extended uncertain period for the events industry."

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