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DUP MP Carla Lockhart has said the announcement of a new £850k fund is a welcome move by the Department for Communities to support concert and marching bands as well as other cultural organisations.

The Upper Bann MP said:

“A number of weeks ago our MPs and MLAs raised the plight of concert and marching bands with the Minister for Communities, making clear the devastating impact coronavirus has had on their activities and their ability to fundraise to meet costs.

Where concerts would have been held as well as street collections, like many others in the arts sector, bands have found themselves with costs yet no ability to raise funds. The announcement of a support package is therefore very welcome. I encourage those with an Ulster Scots ethos to study the criteria to establish if they are eligible.

I commend the bands across Northern Ireland for their engagement and efforts throughout this pandemic. By working together in the Assembly, Westminster and Councils a successful case has been made to DfC and this sector of the Arts will now get supported.

The money can go towards meeting already committed expenditure like insurance costs, and also some other capital measures that can assist groups to meet safely. With restrictions likely to be in place on gatherings for some time, support is also available to help groups equip themselves to do so safely.

Applications are now open and can be accessed via https://www.ulsterscotsagency.com and it is an online application process. I will be hosting an online workshop later this week to support groups who wish to apply and anyone wanting to attend should contact me via Facebook or by calling my office.”