A £5.5m programme of support, aimed at helping the nation’s heritage sector – both organisations and individuals – to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, will be distributed as grants ranging from £3,000 up to £250,000.

This specific heritage initiative is part of the £29 million allocated by the Northern Ireland Executive to support the country’s wider arts, culture, heritage and language sectors.

Paul Mullan, director of the Northern Ireland arm of National Lottery Heritage Fund, says that for many organisations the funding will be “the lifeline they have been waiting for” amid the difficulties of the pandemic.

“We have been actively working to support the sector throughout this crisis, and have already invested £1.78 million of National Lottery money through our Heritage Emergency Fund in Northern Ireland. However, we know there are still testing times ahead and we welcome this support from the Department for Communities to help protect our much-loved heritage from being permanently lost,” he states.

“Heritage is hugely valuable for us all – it is vital in creating economic prosperity, in making local communities better places to live, and in supporting our own personal sense of wellbeing. We remain dedicated to supporting the heritage sector and hope this funding will help many heritage organisations emerge from this crisis and thrive again.”


The Heritage Recovery Fund is open to applicants including:

  • Heritage organisations managing a heritage site or visitor attraction
  • Private owners of a heritage site, venue or attraction
  • Organisations managing, maintaining or caring for culturally significant assets or collections
  • Businesses that are a vital part of the heritage ecosystem, including conservators, contractors, specialists and suppliers
  • Universities and other public sector bodies that manage heritage sites, venues or attractions
  • Self-employed and freelance individuals working in the heritage sector

Successful applicants for grants need to evidence an ‘innovative plan’ for how they will operate and be sustainable for the remainder of this financial year

Smaller, local organisations should demonstrate the role they play in cultural engagement with people from all backgrounds, the opportunities they create and how they benefit their local community and area

Grants for individuals are capped at £5,000 and will be awarded with the aim of helping to sustain vital skills and jobs under threat due to the pandemic

“As we once again find ourselves in the midst of tightened health restrictions as a result of Covid-19, it is vitally important that our heritage sector survives to deliver the wide benefits for our society, economy, and the environment that it is recognised for,” asserts communities minister Carál Ní Chuilín.

“This funding aims to not only save many organisations from collapse, and to retain specialists within the sector, but to help them adapt to the challenges ahead. I am determined that this sector will emerge stronger than ever and that it will also be fit-for-purpose to take on the huge challenge of helping those who need help the most.”

The deadline for submitting applications is midday on Friday 27th November, with decisions expected in January 2021. National Lottery Heritage Fund is hosting two webinars on Monday 9th and Thursday 12th November to answer applicants’ questions. Registration details along with full guidance on eligibility and the application process available here.

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