MP Bob Seely has welcomed the news that Isle of Wight arts organisations are set to receive thousands of pounds from a new Covid-19 emergency response fund.

Six Island groups and individuals have been awarded a share of over £160,000 with the largest sums of money going to the Steve Ross Foundation for the Arts, Brading Roman Villa and StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Independent Arts, Ryde Arts and Ventnor Exchange will also benefit from the fund.

The fund – generated by Arts Council England - is designed to alleviate the immediate pressures faced by arts groups over the summer giving them time to stabilise and plan for the future. 

Bob said: “I welcome this funding for Island groups and individuals, and I thank Arts Council England for offering them support at this time.

“We need to keep our arts organisations on the Island going. The arts can help to enrich life, raise aspirations and education, support job creation and boost the tourism economy.

“First, we need to first get through this crisis. Second, we need to look to make our Island one of Britain’s leading cultural destinations. Following the period of lockdown, I am sure that Islanders will be looking to the arts to provide recreation, education, inspiration and entertainment. This money will help ensure that the Island’s vibrant arts scene is there to meet the demand for art and culture.”

Lisa Gagliani, Chief Executive of Independent Arts, a small charity that delivers arts-based activities to the elderly & vulnerable across the Island, said: “We are really grateful to the Arts Council, who are long-term funders of our work, for their swift and generous emergency response.

“When care homes were forced to close their doors to our services, followed by lockdown, ceasing our community-based workshops and forcing our small team into working from home, the Arts Council funding enabled us to pivot to a new online service and to continue to pay our staff and arts practitioners whilst reaching more than 1500 isolated islanders each month with high-quality arts-based activities to lift the spirit.”

Bob - who in 2018 successfully lobbied for Arts Council England to name the Island as a priority investment area – said he welcomed feedback from arts groups on the Island as to how they were coping through the Covid-19 outbreak.