Northern Ireland launches £5.5m emergency heritage fund

Museums and heritage organisations can apply for grants of up to £250,000
Covid-19 Emergency Funding
Jonathan Knott
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Dunluce Castle in County Antrim
Dunluce Castle in County Antrim Simaron / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Northern Ireland executive is making £5.5m available to help the heritage sector recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Not-for-profit and private organisations working in heritage will be able to apply for grants of between £3,000 and £250,000 from the new Heritage Recovery Fund Northern Ireland.

However, local authorities will have lower priority because they are expected to be eligible for separate funding that has yet to be announced.

The new fund, which is being distributed by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), is designed to offer stability to organisations that were financially sustainable before the pandemic but are now are at risk of failure.

NLHF hopes the grants will enable these to reopen by March next year – or if that is not possible, to operate sustainably until they can reopen.

Independent museums and collections are among those eligible for the funding. Applications are also open to organisations working with historic buildings and monuments, the heritage of specific sectors or communities, and nature.

NLHF says applicants could include not-for-profit organisations, private attractions, universities and businesses working with the sector. Local authorities can also apply, but the guidance says “they are not being prioritised under this fund”.

Grants of more than £250,000 will be considered “in exceptional circumstances”.

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The fund is also open to individuals working in the heritage sector – such as specialist builders, conservators or tour guides – who can apply for grants of £3,000 or £5,000.

NLHF says heritage can encompass oral history, cultural traditions, and languages and dialects, as well as buildings, places and collections.

The funding is part of the £29m emergency support for culture which the Department for Communities announced in September.

Applications will open on Monday 2 November and the funding must be spent by March 2021.

One-to-one advice on applications is not being offered by NLHF, but organisations with queries can attend support webinars on 9 and 12 November.

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