Message from the Mayor of Hackney: How we're supporting our cultural sector

Hackney's renowned artistic community are facing a time of uncertainty as they navigate the impact the coronavirus pandemic has on the future of their events and businesses. The Mayor has addressed the borough's arts and cultural organisations in a letter of practical advice and support. 


We’re proud to be known as the home to thousands of artists and creatives and of our borough’s arts-led cultural and creative economy. Arts and cultural led activities play a vital role in keeping our communities strong and inclusive, but in the face of the current coronavirus pandemic, our cultural calendar and the institutions who create it are being forced to respond and adapt to keep everyone safe. 

Despite the circumstances, from the start, I have been determined to do all I can to make sure the Council is helping and supporting your work and keeping the extraordinary cultural energy you bring to Hackney in place and ready to go for when the pandemic has passed. 

The Cultural Development team have been in contact with many in the sector, as have Cllr Nicholson and I; and they are keen to hear your creative ideas for how you might programme activities that can be brought into the home, and how we can plan for what happens next. 

Use the Council’s dedicated email address to get in touch with the Cultural Development Team at culture@hackney.gov.uk 

As the coronavirus situation unfolds, we will make sure that you receive information from organisations and institutions, including the Council, Government and Arts Council England, as they assign funds and support for the arts and cultural sectors. To keep in touch then please register and join the Hackney Business Network here

In the meantime, you’ll find information below about the support that is currently available for you from the Council and other bodies. We are also here to support you if you need our help in sourcing advice and we will continue to keep you up to date. 

I will continue to champion what you do, the creative workforce in Hackney and do all I can to ensure that you are supported through this crisis, please let me know if I can help do this through social media and any fundraising activities you might be engaged in.

Best wishes and hope everyone is keeping well in these incredibly difficult circumstances. 
Philip Glanville, Mayor of Hackney

Funding packages for arts organisations 

Arts Council England (ACE) have announced £160 million of emergency funds available to organisations and individuals. They have also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations who currently receive ACE funding. Below is the criteria to qualify for support: 

  • Non-Profit Organisations and Music Hubs 

  • Organisations with a track record in publicly-funded culture can apply for up to £35,000

  • Individuals with a track of publicly-funded culture can apply for up to £2,500

There will be two rounds of funding. 

  • The first will open on 9 April and the deadline will be Thursday 16 April. Applicants will need to register with the ACE online grants application portal Grantium by 13 April to apply for this round.

  • The second will open on 16 April and the deadline will be 30 April. Applicants will need to register with Grantium by 27 April to make an application for this round. 

Further details of this support can be found at artscouncil.org.uk/covid19 and Support for Organisations from Government and other Sources is also available online. This guidance is continually updating as they receive further information from HM Treasury and DCMS.

London Funders have announced an emergency support fund for community and voluntary organisations. Details here. 

Disability Arts Online has allocated £8,000 to a new commissions pot which disabled artists can apply to. You can be working in any art form and the deadline is 6 April. Apply here. 

UK’s LGBTQIA festival Homotopia is offering seed commissions of up to £1k for creative ideas which connect people and bring hope. Their deadline is 8 April. Apply here. 

Further resources which we will continue to keep you up to date with: 

  • The Film and TV Charity and BFI have announced a major support fund for film workers, with a £1 million contribution from Netflix. They are also able to offer grants of up to £500 to cover urgent and immediate needs as well as offering legal, emotional or business support advice. You can find out more on their website. 

  • BECTU has published up-to-date advice for workers in the screen industries, especially freelancers here.

  • The Arts Marketing Association has put together additional support and a list of resources here.

Support for your online activity and events 

We’ve been impressed by how agile our community has been under the strain of a lockdown and have noticed how many have embraced technology to keep our borough connected to the arts. To support these incentives, we have created an online form for arts groups to submit their virtual events and activity so we can promote their work through our many social media channels. If you are an arts or cultural organisation you can submit your activity here for us to promote on one of our following social media platforms:

The Cultural Development Team is holding online discussions with its networks over the next few weeks, including Discover Young Hackney, Hackney Carnival, Dalston Children's Network, Windrush Programme, Hackney Pride Network and Hackney Central Cultural Stakeholder Forum.

The Discover Young Hackney online network event will take place on Friday, 24 April, facilitated by Voluntary Arts England, and will be for organisations working with young people aged between 13-19. 

It will serve as a pilot for this new way of working. To suggest any other ways we can support you, email the Culture Team at culture@hackney.gov.uk.

Government support for businesses

The Government has announced measures to support businesses and the self-employed. These can be found on our Hackney Business Network website. This includes a package of measures to support businesses including:

  • A Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

  • Deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments

  • A Self-employment Income Support Scheme

  • A statutory Sick Pay relief package for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs)

  • A 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England

  • Small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief

  • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000

  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank

  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans

  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme

  • If you are an employee visit Gov.uk for the official: COVID-19: guidance for employees

Support for Community and Voluntary Sector (CVS)

We are working closely with the local voluntary and community sector and alongside Hackney CVS who will be sharing information and guidance through their websites, social media and e-news. See: hcvs.org.uk/coronavirus-information 

The Council is absolutely committed to supporting our community and voluntary services and we’ll do everything we can to work with them as we meet the ongoing challenges. We have taken immediate measures to support this sector by doing the following: 

  • A three-month rent-free period for quarter 1 of 2020-21

  • Applying business rate reliefs announced by the Government for eligible businesses

  • Administering the Coronavirus small business grant scheme, with grants of up to £10,000 for eligible businesses, and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant of up to £25,000 for eligible businesses

Hackney Business Network 

Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen the real value in our Hackney Business Network. We have seen 100s of businesses sign up to our weekly business network newsletter which you can sign up for here and have many new followers on our website and Twitter account. These channels have provided invaluable information to our businesses across the borough as well as giving them an opportunity to tell us directly how the coronavirus is impacting them. Many arts and culture organisations are already signed up and we hope to see more in the coming weeks as we begin to tailor additional information specific to the arts. 

Coronavirus business grants

As part of the coronavirus financial support package announced by the government, Hackney Council will be administering grants to the following businesses:

  • Businesses classed within retail, leisure and hospitality sectors (including pubs) with a rateable value of over £15,000 and up to £51,000 will be eligible for a £25,000 grant in 2020/21 in addition to their relief from business rates. 

  • Businesses who receive small business rates relief will be eligible for a £10,000 grant in 2020/21 on top of their existing relief. 

  • For further details on eligibility criteria and FAQ's please visit this page.

For more information on the Council's response to Coronavirus visit our website.