KWMC receives Emergency Response Funds to help it survive

Main image: Knowle West Media Centre which closed its doors to the public at the beginning of lockdown.

A Knowle West charity has received emergency funding support due to the coronavirus pandemic to ensure its survival.

This week Arts Council England (ACE) announced it would be supporting Knowle West Media Centre (KWMC) through its Emergency Response Funds – funding for organisations and individuals in need of immediate support due to the COVID-19 crisis.

The digital arts charity in Leinster Avenue has been based in the area since 1996 and has a second site for digital manufacturing and training – KWMC: The Factory at Filwood Green Business Park.

KWMC offers a range of projects from health to housing as well and skills training – working with local people to achieve positive social change. 

KWMC’s 100 Years of Knowle West Style exhibition which became available virtually when the building closed.

KWMC Communications Manager Rachel Clarke says: “The last few months have been hugely challenging for the arts and cultural sector – artists, freelancers, and organisations and venues of all sizes. We’re very grateful to ACE for their support of KWMC at this critical time.

“We closed our buildings KWMC (Leinster Avenue) and KWMC: The Factory (Filwood Green Business Park) in March 2020, at the beginning of the nation-wide lockdown. 

“Since then, we have had to delay activities and we’ve been unable to generate income through rental of our spaces, digital manufacturing kit and creative facilities – placing the future of the organisation under threat. 

“The Emergency Response Funds support from ACE will cover the income lost during the spring and summer months  – March to September 2020.

“No longer threatened with closure, we look forward to working with ACE, our partners and communities in Knowle West and beyond as we move into a recovery phase…

“(We’ll be) planning and delivering inclusive creative programmes that complement ACE’s Let’s Create vision and support communities, artists and people of all ages to create positive change, particularly those in precarious circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak…”

During lockdown, KWMC has been forced to furlough some staff while others have taken pay cuts. 

But many activities planned to take place in-person have all happened online. These include digital design workshops at The Factory, artist meet-ups and talks as well as creative sessions for young people and a virtual Work Experience programme for Year 10 students. 

Rachel adds: “We’d like to thank our fantastic team for the sacrifices they’ve made during this difficult period and for their dedication to KWMC and the artists, communities, makers and young people we work with.”  

Darren Henley CEO of Arts Council England says: “Today has been a big day for the cultural sector.

“For weeks now, we’ve been working with officials and ministers at DCMS and HM Treasury to help them come up with a package of relief. Today, we know the result of all that hard work: £1.57 billion of grants and loans for cultural, arts and heritage institutions across the UK.

“This is a massive vote of confidence: in our sector’s quality, its reach and its roots in communities up and down the country. And it’s an acknowledgement of the importance of creativity and culture to the future wellbeing of the country…”