National Creative Relief Program to support creatives impacted by COVID-19

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The program aims to provide financial grants to independent individuals, small businesses and entrepreneurs in the fields of cultural and creative industries to help them survive and overcome the impact of COVID-19.

The program is held under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development in collaboration with partners in local governments, creative organisations and CSR UAE Fund as a federal authority for Corporate Social Responsibility in the UAE, the Fund will attract contributions through its smart platform and direct them to eligible participants.

This relief program is a result of a joint effort between the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, members of the Arts and Cultural and Creative Industries Councils and cultural institutions in the country. The members met virtually in early April to discuss how to unify efforts and offer support to creative individuals and institutions.

“Creatives are an integral part of our society, offering cultural and creative content to the community. The cultural sector is a priority for the leadership of the UAE. The program preserves the UAE’s cultural achievements and allows creative production to thrive and flourish as the works contribute to creating human communication between thought and culture, and we cannot imagine our lives without these nuances.” Her Highness Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chair of Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation added, “The UAE’s support to creatives represents a shared societal responsibility and a humanitarian necessity. In doing so, we send a strong message of respect and solidarity with intellectuals and creatives in the country.”

Sheikha Mariam indicated that the National Creative Relief Program preserves the nation’s cultural and creative achievements and paves the way for continued artistic production in all circumstances by providing creatives with a strong push forward.

Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development confirmed that the UAE is the first country in the region to launch a program that supports creatives impacted by COVID-19, cementing the UAE’s position as an incubator of knowledge, culture and creativity.

Al Kaabi explained that the National Creative Relief Program is a result of the National Survey that was launched after a meeting with members of the Arts and Cultural and Creative Industries Councils in early April. The questionnaire collected a set of data that helped design the program in a way that could support individuals and organisations most impacted by COVID-19 and to ensure the sustainability of their practice in the future.

According to the results of the questionnaire, 90 per cent respondents indicated that the biggest challenge at this stage is fixed costs such as renting offices and workshops, salaries to employees, continued services to clients, loan payments, and paying dues to contractors and suppliers.

“The UAE is aware of the contributions of the creative community and is responsible towards their importance and effectiveness in the society. Many local institutions in the UAE have already come forward to offer incentives to support local communities in their own ways. It is our responsibility to ensure that independent creatives can continue to produce works and support themselves as they play a significant role in the sustainability of the country’s cultural ecosystem. Al Kaabi added, “Our creative economy is a strong one. We have several creative districts across the country that house thousands of local and international firms. By maintaining the competitiveness of the creative sector and creating a set of policies and initiatives that encourage creative entrepreneurship, durability and sustainability of the creative sector, we contribute to the UAE’s acquisition of a large share of the creative economy market globally.”

This program also invites individuals, organisations and patrons who wish to contribute to the program as part of their social responsibility to local institutions in the spirit of giving back to the community. Donations can be made through the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development website.

His Excellency Engineer Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, Minister of Economy and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of CSR UAE Fund, said that supporting creativity and innovation in various fields is one of the priorities of corporate social responsibility because of its key role in developing people’s competencies and in developing innovative technological systems that produce solutions to many economic, social and environmental challenges. This in return enhances the development of the business and investment environment.

Al Mansoori added that CSR UAE Fund is keen to direct the social contributions of entities to sectors that enhance the development goals of the country at a federal and local level.

Al Mansouri also emphasised that the National Creative Relief Program, which was launched by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development, is an important initiative to support creators and innovators overcome the challenges imposed by the current crisis. He also stressed on the important role of all sectors of society, especially the private sector, in driving the development of the cultural and knowledge sectors as it is one of the country’s main priorities.

His Excellency added that the role of CSR UAE Fund will not only facilitate the provision of grants through contributions received, but rather enhance the financial awareness of entrepreneurs in their respective fields to ensure the sustainability of their businesses.

Individuals and companies that require support through the National Creative Relief Program can apply for a grant through the website.

Applications will be accepted for a period of 7 days starting from 17th May through a unified digital platform, which also gives visitors an opportunity to learn about all the initiatives that are being considered to overcome the challenges of the current global health pandemic.

All requests will be evaluated by a specialised committee according to a predetermined criteria: the size of lost work or projects, financial setback due to COVID-19, production of creative content in the UAE in 2019, in order to ensure that support reaches those that are most affected by this situation.

The cultural and creative industries fields eligible to obtain financial grants include:

  • Natural and cultural heritage which includes museums, monuments, historical places, natural heritage, cultural education, intangible cultural heritage
  • Performing arts, which include music, festivals and exhibitions
  • Visual arts and crafts, which includes fine art, photography, crafts and other ways of digital reproduction of works
  • Press and Literature includes writing for books, magazines, newspapers, libraries and archives.
  • Audiovisual and interactive media including movies and video, television and radio, interactive media, electronic games
  • Design and creative services including fashion design, interior design, landscape design, architectural design and services, design and advertising services, jewelry design, culinary arts, technology and software design