Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 May 2020

Creative freelancers and SMEs in the UAE can apply for Dh15,000-Dh50,000 grants from the government

The National Creative Relief Programme is accepting applications for grants beginning on May 17

The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development (MCKD) has launched a programme to support freelancers and SMEs in the creative industry, helping out those that have been impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

Freelancers, entrepreneurs and small businesses in the cultural and creative industries can apply for the grant on the MCKD's website beginning on Sunday, May 17. Applications will be open for seven days.

We send a strong message of respect and solidarity with intellectuals and creatives in the country

Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed

The grant is open to freelancers and SMEs in the UAE. Emiratis and residents can apply. Individuals can receive between Dh15,000 to 50,000 in aid.

Applicants could range from small visual arts companies to freelance photographers and videographers. More specifically, those who are eligible for the fund include individuals and entities working in the following fields: natural and cultural heritage, performing arts, visual arts, audiovisual and interactive media, literature, press and design. The full list of eligible professions can be found on the MCKD’s website.

The requests will be reviewed by a committee that will consider factors such as the amount of lost work or projects, the financial impact of Covid-19 on the individual or entity and the amount of content and work they produced in 2019. Priority will be given to those most affected by the crisis.

The National Creative Relief Programme is the first programme in the region developed specifically for creative industries during Covid-19.

The ministry is also collaborating with the CSR UAE Fund, a federal authority for Corporate Social Responsibility in the UAE, and will accept contributions to the fund from individuals, patrons and companies. This extra money will then be directed to applicants.

“Creatives have always had a significant impact on our lives, they make positive change in society through their works,” said the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Noura Al Kaabi of the importance of the artistic industries.

Street art on Abu Dhabi's corniche: working artists who are citizens and residents of the UAE can apply for the grant. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Street art on Abu Dhabi's corniche: working artists who are citizens and residents of the UAE can apply for the grant. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Al Kaabi said the ministry is also developing a set of new policies that will “encourage creative entrepreneurship" and the "durability and sustainability of the creative sector”. She expressed similar sentiments during a Cultural Majlis discussion with Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi in early April. Details on the policies have yet to be announced.

In April, the minister also met with the Creative Industries Council to formulate responses to this situation. The council consists of leading figures from the UAE's culture and creative industries, as well as arts and heritage institutions.

The grant programme is the outcome of a national survey developed by MCKD alongside the Creative Industries Council in mid April, which called for individuals and institutions in the arts and culture industry to share feedback on their economic and operational challenges.

More than 1,400 entities took part in the survey, and 90 per cent of the participants said that the crisis posed a threat to their livelihoods.

Respondents indicated that their biggest challenges included fixed costs, such as rent payments for offices and workshops, salaries to employees, loan payments and dues to contractors and suppliers.

“Creatives are an integral part of our society, offering cultural and creative content to the community,” said Sheikha Mariam bint Mohamed bin Zayed, Chair of the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. “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.”

Updated: May 16, 2020 02:15 PM

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