Written by Rachel Hicks, Head of Marketing and Communications,
UK Community Foundations
I recently sang in a charity concert. A small vocal ensemble performed a programme of seasonal music to raise money for our local Lord Mayor’s Charity Appeal which supports three fantastic local causes. Nothing unusual in any of that, except our concert was two years late. We were originally due to perform the same programme in March 2020, just after the lockdown had been announced. Covid and its effects were not entirely absent this time: one singer missed the concert because he tested positive, and the more cautious members of the audience were still wearing masks. But it was a joy to be singing again to a live, appreciative audience. It was a reminder of the power of music to bring people together.
Introducing their review, The Impact of COVID-19 on the Arts, the British Council state:
‘The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the arts and cultural sector both in the UK and around the world. The sector has seen radical disruptions to many of its routines, revenues and relationships. Yet, physical distancing has shown all of us how much we need and value connection, culture and the arts.’
Connecting communities is at the heart of our work at UK Community Foundations. Many of our members have continued to build that connection by supporting arts organisations throughout the pandemic. They have enabled them to develop new, online activities or outdoor events which have kept people safe while enjoying both performance and participation. For example, through Merseyside Community Foundation, Liverpool ONE Foundation supported Liverpool Digital Music Festival, providing young people with performance opportunities in response to the Covid restrictions facing live music.
Staffordshire Community Foundation helped community film and theatre company Rotten Park Road to create training videos to show people how to make their own films during the lockdown. The London Community Foundation provided Cardboard Citizens theatre company with a grant for a production that compared experiences during the Plague of 1665 and Lockdown in 2020.
As artists and cultural organisations are now emerging from the pandemic, there is a real excitement and energy around creating new work and UKCF is delighted to be working in partnership with Arts Council England to administer their Let’s Create Jubilee Fund. The focus of this fund is to empower community organisations to work collaboratively with artists and cultural organisations in a way they might not have before, highlighting their ideas and creativity in celebration of HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Following very high numbers of applications, reflecting people’s enthusiasm to come together and celebrate, more than 700 projects have been funded across England. These projects will culminate in events and activities during June, helping communities to celebrate this landmark moment in our national history.
We hope that the joy of being able to perform and participate in artistic projects again will inspire communities and that new connections and collaborations arising from the Let’s Create Jubilee Fund will grow and thrive when the bunting has come down. Community foundations will continue to champion local artists and organisations that encourage participation and engagement to strengthen community connections.