Funding has been announced for the creative sector and a zero-emission maritime study in Northern Ireland.
Creative Sector Funding
A statement published on communities-ni.go.uk said, "A £5 million fund to prevent the loss of the talent and expertise of individuals and freelancers working in the creative sector has been launched by Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey.
"The Creative Individuals Recovery Programme, which opens at noon today, will provide a grant of up to £2,000 per individual eligible application including DJs, artists, performers, sound and lighting technicians, writers, events managers and many other professionals who have been impacted as a result of the public health restrictions on the creative sector.
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"There is evidence that the creative sectors rely heavily on self-employed and freelance individuals and that many have already left the sectors because of the pandemic, with those remaining facing jobs vulnerability and unaffordable costs relating to re-establishing their creative practice.
"Minister Hargey said, 'I have listened to the recommendations of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce, and I have also engaged with the sector. As a result, I am today launching a support scheme to provide grants to individuals to encourage them to remain in the creative arts sector.
"'The culture, languages, arts and heritage sectors have been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19 restrictions as they rely heavily on people’s ability to get together which is why the Executive has provided £13 million in 2021/2022 to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.
"'There is a risk that self-employed and freelance individuals may be forced to leave the creative sectors as a result of the pandemic. As the sectors rely heavily on individuals, this could destabilise the sector and the benefits it delivers including social, economic and wellbeing. This new £5m funding scheme aims to prevent loss of sectoral skills for self-employed and freelance individuals and safeguard the sector for the future.
"'This fund will help with costs of reactivating, maintaining and enhancing their creative trade, vocation or profession. It is designed to prevent individuals, and their talent and expertise, from leaving the creative economy; and help them re-establish their contribution to the important benefits these sectors deliver.'
"Welcoming the funding, chair of the Culture, Arts and Heritage Recovery Taskforce Rotha Johnston said, "'Freelancers and the self-employed are critical to the recovery and sustainability of the creative and cultural sectors as a result of the impacts of COVID-19. Many have been deprived the opportunity to use their skills, perform or practice their art in the last 18 months. The Taskforce is of the unanimous view that support for individuals is essential to protect the viability of the sectors going forward. The Taskforce’s findings and recommendations have been developed following extensive engagement with people from across the sectors and our conclusion is that this public investment in culture, arts and heritage will deliver significant benefits to individuals, society and the economy in the short, medium and long term.'
"The fund, co-designed by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) with the Department for Communities, will be delivered by the Arts Council. For information on how to apply including eligibility criteria, please visit http://artscouncil-ni.org/funding/for-individuals.
"D/deaf and disabled artists will be supported via a separate award via ACNI to the University of Atypical who regularly support this particular cohort, to ensure that artists with particular needs are appropriately supported through the application process.
"The scheme is open until 12 noon, 6 October, 2021."
Zero-Emission Maritime Study Funding
Meanwhile, a statement published on belfastharbour.co.uk said, "The Northern Ireland Green Seas consortium has been awarded £398,096 by the UK Department of Transport to investigate ways to decarbonise maritime transport in Northern Ireland. This will be through using zero-emission shore-side electricity and hydrogen-powered vessels as part of the UK's goal to achieve Net Zero by 2050.
"The NI Green Seas consortium project is led by Power NI, part of the Energia Group, in collaboration with local partners Belfast Harbour, Artemis Technologies, NIE Networks, Ulster University, Queen’s University Belfast and global engineering firm, Mott MacDonald, was amongst the winners of the £20 million UK-wide ‘Clean Maritime Demonstration Competition’, announced earlier today (Wednesday 15th September).
"Welcoming today's funding announcement, the Minister for Infrastructure, Nichola Mallon, said, 'I have been pressing the British government for funding for climate action and welcome the success of NI Green Seas in securing this investment. NI Green Seas is building on the work of the wider Belfast Maritime Consortium, ensuring that Belfast is fast becoming a global lead in zero-emission maritime technology.
"'This feasibility study will harness the expertise and investment of local business, academia and government, and will lay the foundation for future infrastructure projects and support economic growth locally, providing global solutions for sustainable maritime transport and clean port infrastructure.'
"The focus of the consortium's research will assess the needs of different maritime locations, a major freight and transport port like Belfast Harbour, a smaller leisure port like Bangor Marina and a remote island such as Rathlin.
"Low carbon solutions will include battery energy storage to support the charging of electrified vessels and freight handling, green hydrogen production and bunkering, shore-side electrical grid infrastructure for freight handling and renewable energy supply.
"William Steele, Director of Customer Solutions at Power NI, said, 'As the lead partner on this exciting project, we are delighted to be working with some of Northern Ireland’s leading companies and academic institutions to undertake this study and help position Northern Ireland at the forefront of the transition to zero emission maritime.
"'This project will build on our work to date with Translink leading the supply of green hydrogen to double decker buses in Belfast using renewable energy. Harnessing Northern Ireland’s renewable resource and technology capability, the NI Green Seas project will serve as the blueprint for the future of sustainable, green shipping.'
"Ian Lang, Sustainability and Infrastructure Director at Belfast Harbour, commented, 'Belfast Harbour's ambition is to become a world leading Green Port. We are committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions from our operations by 2030 and we are already taking action to digitise, decarbonise and decentralise our energy usage, purchasing all of our electricity from low carbon sources and introducing the use of electric vehicles within our fleet.
"'As a socially responsible Trust Port, we are embedding sustainability into every part of our business, to further reduce pollution, and to protect and enhance our natural environment. We are excited to be part of the Northern Ireland Green Seas consortium, and look forward to seeing how the outputs of this study on decarbonising marine transport can accelerate our sustainability journey and support economic growth and jobs in this sector.'
"David Tyler, Commercial Director and co-founder of Artemis Technologies, a NI Green Seas partner, and head of the wider Belfast Maritime Consortium, said, 'Driven by our mission to decarbonise maritime not just in the UK but across the globe, Artemis Technologies leads the Belfast Maritime Consortium, working to develop new zero-emission vessels and create green maritime transport systems of the future.
"'The work of Northern Ireland Green Seas will be invaluable in gaining a clear understanding of the infrastructure and energy requirements that will help make that goal a reality.
"'By harnessing digital twin technology, we'll map out detailed real-life scenarios across a range of different maritime environments.'
"Today's funding announcement follows the awarding of a £33m 'Strength in Places' grant from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) last year to the Belfast Maritime Consortium, which is working to develop high-speed electric passenger ferries that will revolutionise the future of maritime transport."
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