£500,000 fund established to help creative freelancers in Manchester

The Savannah Wisdom Foundation, Manchester City Council and the arts centre, HOME, have set up a fund to help the city’s creative and cultural freelance community through the current pandemic crisis.

The fund is specifically aimed at freelancers who are ineligible for the government’s Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) yet are seeing reduced demand or capacity to deliver their services or have found their sector prevented from trading through lockdown.

The eligibility rules for the fund are clearly designed to support the many self-employed and small company directors who were deliberately exempted from SEISS support.

According to Manchester City Council, the fund is available to freelancers, both sole traders and small company proprietors paid by dividends, within the arts, cultural and creative industries in Manchester, including music, theatre, dance, combined arts, visual arts, museums, literature, creative industries, heritage culture and heritage.

Their work must have direct creative and cultural outcomes and they need to be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Freelance work has been lost or disrupted because of COVID-19
  • Current monthly income (before tax) of less than £1,400, or £1,900 for those with dependants
  • At least 50% working time was spent, or 50% income was derived, from freelance employment in the arts, cultural and creative industries sector in the period April 2019 to March 2020
  • Resident of, or business based in, Manchester
  • New entrants to freelance work in the sector are also eligible if you can provide details of 8 weeks (5 weeks for disabled applicants) of relevant freelance work during the period January 2019 to March 2020

HOME’s Executive Director, Jon Gilchrist, said, ‘Cultural organisations across the city have been working together to support all areas of the cultural sector devastated by this pandemic. Freelancers are without doubt the most affected with many slipping through gaps in funding schemes.

‘With this further lockdown, we risk losing an entire generation of talented artists and creative practitioners if we don’t act now. Thanks to this incredible gift, some of the people at the greatest risk of financial hardship will get some additional support.’ 

How to apply

The fund will open on Mon 1 Feb 2021 at 9am.

  • Applications should be made via a dedicated webpage on the Manchester City Council site, which can be found here
  • Applications will be considered on a first-come-first-served basis

For more information about eligibility, or about how to apply for the fund, check the FAQs here. HOME has established a dedicated support team at: or 0161 523 0444, open Monday to Friday, between 09.00 and 17.00.

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