Creatives who have lost income to be employed for local creative projects through innovative arts and cultural fund


The creative sector in Hackney Wick and Fish Island is set to be given a boost thanks to a new coronavirus recovery programme funded by the Mayor of London and managed jointly by Hackney Council, Tower Hamlets Council and the London Legacy Development Corporation.

The area, one of London’s first Creative Enterprise Zones (CEZ), has been hit hard by the economic impact of the pandemic and while government support schemes have softened the blow, many creatives are falling through the gaps.

We are the Wick is a new initiative that will allow businesses, charities and community organisations to apply for funding to deliver high-quality arts, culture, skills and business support projects. £5,000 is available per project and a condition of the funding will be a commitment to employ local creative freelancers and sole traders in the delivery of their vision.

Applications for the programme opened on Friday 17 July.

The Hackney Wick and Fish Island CEZ focuses on protecting one of the world’s most recognisable ‘at risk’ communities of creators, including artists, makers, designers and performers working across the cultural, creative, digital and tech industries. Its designation has provided increased protection from invasive planning proposals, while maintaining affordable workspace and increasing training and skills for local people.

The key aims of the We are the Wick programme include:

  • Support local small businesses, freelancers and sole traders to become more resilient by developing their skills and capacity.
  • Encourage interactive arts and culture projects that help residents from the area’s diverse communities to be part of the local creative offer.
  • Employ local freelancers and sole traders who have lost work as a result of coronavirus to deliver creative projects

The successful projects will demonstrate an ability to improve social cohesion, develop creative skills and resilience, support creative businesses and build relationships across the CEZ. Applications for funding are open until Friday 14 August.

Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy
The creative and cultural sector in Hackney is world-renowned and is a vital component of our local economy, one in ten jobs in the borough are in this sector. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic and gaps in support from the Government, the creative and cultural sector is under real pressure which is why we have put together the ‘We are the Wick’ fund for local businesses to produce inclusive, creative projects for the benefit of the local community, with a focus on the participation of young people.

This initial round of funding is relatively low and it will only be able to offer meaningful support to a small number of organisations, despite there being so many more who desperately need help. The Council has been doing everything it can to support and champion the needs of the creative and cultural sector, including taking the call to Government to further support the sector in these challenging times. We therefore welcome the Government's recently announced sector-specific recovery fund and we look forward to ensuring that we can secure the long-term future of the area’s creative and cultural community.
Cllr Guy Nicholson, Cabinet Member for Planning, Culture and Inclusive Economy
This pandemic has dealt a blow to businesses across London but we know the arts and creative sectors have been among the hardest hit. By introducing programmes like We are the Wick, we are working with our partners to deliver targeted responses to the most immediate challenges as they emerge.

The CEZ was introduced to provide greater protection for those at risk of being priced out of the communities they helped to build. Now, those same freelancers, sole traders and small creative businesses are facing an altogether different threat that was both unexpected and unprecedented. This programme is not a solution to the inevitable challenges this area will face in the weeks and months ahead, but it is a positive start and a signal of our lasting commitment to all those who live and work in Hackney Wick and Fish Island.
Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth, London Borough of Tower Hamlets
The CEZ was created to support the development of the creative community in Hackney Wick and Fish Island and this is now more important than ever.  ‘We are the Wick’ is a small but vitally important step in the creative community’s recovery as we emerge from lockdown.
Paul Brickell, Executive Director of Regeneration and Community Partnerships, London Legacy Development Corporation

We are the Wick funding is conditional on the successful project employing a minimum of four local creative freelancers and/or sole traders who have lost work due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a minimum, all involved must be paid the London Living Wage.

For further information and to apply, visit https://www.hwfi.zone/we-are-the-wick