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Council Funding Boost For Covid Affected Capital

Community and creative groups have had to adapt and diversify during Covid-19, which was reflected in the applications for funding approved by Wellington City Council this week.

The C.H Izard Bequest supports projects that target disadvantaged groups in Wellington. StarJam Wellington was one of four organisations to receive funding from the bequest, receiving $6,000 to continue providing community connections for youth inactive or isolated by disability.

StarJam Wellington usually operates ten workshops in the region and two of these received funding through Wellington City Council. These are held at Aro Valley Community Centre and at Toi Pōneke and both were closed due to Covid-19 lockdown at Alert Level 4.

“Many of our young people have experienced social isolation in their lives well before the onset of Covid-19 so it was imperative we got online systems up and running as soon as Level 4 started,” says StarJam’s Fiona Rouse.

“We needed to ensure our Jammers had an outlet to keep in touch and stay active and engaged, so we set up online tutorials and workshops where small teams could take part from the safety of their own homes. It has also been important for caregivers and whānau to have some routine and support during this challenging time.

“It has been a great result, with an overwhelming response and positive feedback. The online format has been really popular and engaging, and kept the community spirit alive. With social distancing and venue number restrictions still in place we’ll continue with our online platform until the end of this term.”

There were 22 groups and organisations that received a share of the $119,200 Arts & Culture Fund, ranging from regular applicants like the Matariki celebration in Maupuia/Miramar and the 15th annual Show Me Shorts film festival, plus a noticeable number of online platform performances including podcasts, a digital celebration of 35 years of Footnote, and a streamed event from Transit NZ called POP.

Events, arts and community activities have taken a huge hit with Covid-19 restrictions, so applications for funding had a very different look and feel from previous rounds says Grants Subcommittee Chair, Councillor Fleur Fitzsimons.

“Our focus was on getting financial support to people to develop work and present work in different ways, and that is evident in the remarkable variety and mix of recipients allocated funds this week.

“Support for these groups is more crucial now than ever, ensuring we’ll be able to retain, maintain and develop these valuable contributions to our communities now, and for the future.

“Funding and criteria has had to adapt as well, providing more flexibility with requirements and financial reporting as the future is still a bit uncertain for all of us.”

Other grants allocated this week include the Tawa Community Grants Fund which provides assistance for local Tawa community projects and activities. Seven organisations received a share of $15,000.

Meanwhile, the Building Resilience Fund also allocated $267,070 to 12 recipients.

This is the second round of the Building Resilience Fund which was introduced last year after a new national system for managing earthquake-prone buildings came into effect on July 2017.

The new system shortened timeframes for strengthening some of Wellington’s earthquake-prone buildings, and brought into focus the difficulties faced by many owners.

In the 2019/20 Annual Plan, Councillors allocated $500,000 toward supporting owners of earthquake-prone, non-heritage buildings to meet associated costs of seismic strengthening of their buildings through funding engineering assessments.

Council approved the criteria for the Building Resilience Fund in September 2019. The first round of funding opened on 31 October 2019 and the decision on applications was made on 18 March 2020.

Applications close on Friday 29 May for Council’s refocussed Social and Recreation Fund with an additional $1m for Covid-19 recovery projects, along with funding available for sports and recreation programmes.

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