Fri, Jan 7, 2022 7:11 AM

Community organisations get emergency funding

Theatre Royal manager Eliane Polack stands in the theatre left vastly empty since the first Covid-19 lockdown. Photo: Erin Bradnock.

Sara Hollyman

Almost 30 community organisations have received emergency funding from council to help with increased cost and lower incomes due to Covid-19.

Over the past 20 months Nelson City Council has allocated its full funding available from the Covid-19 emergency fund that was created in April 2020.

Overall, 32 grants were given to 27 community organisations over the period.

Nelson mayor Rachel Reese says unsurprisingly, many of the applications for funding were from organisations which rely on income from events or venues that haven’t been able to operate as normal.

“This financial support from Council was essential to keep community organisations running over lockdown periods so they can continue to provide direct benefits to people in Nelson City.”

The Theatre Royal was one organisation that received funding from the emergency fund.

Theatre manager, Eliane Polack, says the grants they received were essential in keeping the historic theatre alive.

“We’ve had two disastrous years in a row for show cancellations. Only half of the community hires we had pencilled in, and one-third of the planned professional touring shows could go ahead in 2021.”

Eliane says despite the massive impact on revenue, the theatre has large, fixed costs which don’t go away when shows are cancelled.

“Without grants from the Council, alongside other Government subsidies, we would not have survived. Now that shows are beginning to return to the Theatre under the traffic light system, performers and audiences are grateful the Theatre is still here for the community to enjoy.”

Michelle Allwright, Support Manager at The White House, a peer-led mental health day-support service in Nelson, says the funding they received from the emergency fund was important for keeping vulnerable people connected to the community.

“For many of the people we support, lockdowns are incredibly isolating. We knew we would need to do more than our usual activities to draw people out of their homes to reconnect,” she says.

She says funding was used to create fun weekend activities and events, such as building raised vegetable gardens to assist with cooking shared kai.

"It brought people together after lockdown and reconnected them with a supportive and inclusive community of their peers, which is important for supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

To be eligible for Council funding, community groups needed to have also applied for all Government support they qualified for, such as the wage subsidy.

The allocation of funding was also designed to be a quick response, to allow funds to reach groups as quickly as possible. Decisions on grant applications were made by a panel consisting of the mayor, deputy mayor, and chair of the Community & Recreation Committee.

The aim was for community groups that needed financial help to go from application to decision in two weeks.