Lambeth Council has opened a £300,000 hardship fund to support the arts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new fund will offer £10,000 and £25,000 grants to not-for-profit arts and culture organisations, including charities and social enterprises, “with a proven track record of providing opportunity to residents experiencing inequality – but whose survival is now at risk due to Covid-19”.

The fund also aims to support organisations that rely on bringing people together in physical spaces. 

The council says it “will be ensuring” that at least 40 per cent of organisations benefiting will be BAME or female-led. 

Councillor Sonia Winifred, Lambeth’s cabinet member for equalities and culture, said: “We have worked with our business improvement districts and other community partners to lobby government for better support for arts and cultural organisations facing very difficult times as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

“These organisations have an incredibly important place in the social fabric of our borough, and to see them unnecessarily go under as a result of the coronavirus would be a massive loss that may take years for recover from.

“So we have secured some limited funding from Government, and by using the council’s own resources we are now able to open this Arts and Culture at Risk Fund for applications.”

Justine Simons OBE, deputy director for culture and the creative industries, said Covid-19 is having a “devastating effect” on arts and culture “so these funds are a real lifeline”.

“Through this pandemic we have seen the value of culture and creativity across society through drawing, poetry, music and more.

“Cultural organisations provide an important role supporting communities throughout the year and these grants will go a long way towards helping sustain them into the future,” she said.

Backing the move, theatre director and producer Jude Kelly, who was artistic director of the Southbank Centre and is now director of the WOW Foundation, said she has seen “the incredible diversity, creativity and commitment to the community of the many hard working and successful arts organisations in the borough”.

“It’s both tragic and potentially very damaging that as a result of this disease, which has taken lives, worsened isolation and exacerbated inequality, we could now lose many of the organisations who will be so valuable once we start to recover as a society from the outbreak.

“This funding could play an important role in ensuring the survival of Lambeth’s arts and culture organisations, and I’d really encourage them to apply as well as support community lobbying efforts for proper government support.”