ACW Urgent Response Fund for Individuals is now open to applications

(*Please note ACW has closed all its usual funding schemes for at least six months)

Below Groundwork has:

  • Drawn together an outline of the fund including key points from our open Zoom meeting last week.
  • A summary of questions that we have raised to ACW and their responses.
  • Signposted to other key sources sources of financial support.
  • Signposted to possible sources of advice.
  • Outlined how Groundwork might be able to support your applications.

Outline of ACW Urgent Response fund for Individuals:

You can apply for up to £2500 for individuals facing immediate financial difficulty due to Covid19.
The site is now open for the first round of applications – *deadline Mon 20th April*.
There will be a second round of this fund opening on 28th April – deadline Wed 6th May
Decisions will be made within 3 weeks of the deadline.

ACW is stressing that this fund is for those facing significant and immediate financial hardship. They have made the fund light touch, rapid response and non competitive. They ask that only those who really need apply. They expect individuals to have explored other routes of financial support so that their funds can go to those most in need and so monies are retained for future creative grant rounds where possible.

Important good news:
– Dancers, performers and creatives (individuals who wouldn’t usually be the applicant for ACW funds) are eligible to apply as well as choreographers/directors/producers etc . You need to get at least 50% of your income from freelance work, work mainly (50%+) in one of ACW supported disciplines and have a track record of working in publicly funded cultural sector.
– If you have access costs you can apply for up to an additional £2000.
– This fund is not based on a creative proposal.
– You need to give details of what you usually do so ACW can assess whether you meet their criteria, tell them how your freelance income has been affected, let them know if you are in receipt of any other ACW funds, detail why you are ineligible for government job retention scheme (furlough) or self employed income support scheme (SEISS) (more on this later) and detail any other financial assistance that you are or are not eligible for. You also need to provide details of a referee, a CV and your bank account.


Summary of questions we put to ACW and their responses. 

  • The guidelines and application questions suggests that people who will be eligible for the Self Employment Support Scheme (SEISS) will not be eligible for this ACW fund. However the FAQ doc suggests some flexibility around this i.e ‘if other sources of funding are not enough to support you’.
    We asked ACW for clarity and flagged that the SEISS scheme might not offer people enough support for a number of reasons including – it only covers 80% of profit, it doesn’t cover expenses which freelancers may still incur, it disadvantages those who took maternity or were sick during the SEISS qualifying years, it doesn’t take account of changing work patterns.
    ACW answer – you can apply in all of these situations but we are asking the sector to help us address the critical need to keep our sector afloat and that means making sure that we are getting all of the money we are entitled to from generic sources such as SEISS to help with that mission.
    *If you are entitled to SEISS or indeed the Governments Job retention scheme for part of your income you will need to detail why you are requesting additional support.
  • We asked ACW what they will do to support people if the SEISS scheme is not extended beyond May given their project grants are suspended for 6 months and many freelance projects in the arts have been cancelled way beyond May.
    ACW answer – We will have to take stock at that point. There’s so many unknowns at the moment. In principle we’d always be trying to keep as much of the sector afloat as possible. How we do that exactly will have to respond to the circumstances we find ourselves in and the resources available to us at that time.
  • We asked ACW what they mean by immediate need given project grants are closed till Oct.
    ACW answer – our current timeframe is till Sept
    *We therefore suggest that if you will be in urgent financial need by Sept you apply to the Urgent response fund as there will not be additional rounds of this fund.
  • Are recent graduates eligible to apply for this fund?
    ACW answer – Yes if they can provide good references and a track record of professional activity.
  • The guidelines state PHD students are ineligible. Does this apply to those who are undertaking a PHD part time alongside their creative practice and are unpaid?
    ACW answer – It applies to people who are researching paid Ph.Ds.
  • Guildelines state that academics are ineligible, does this apply to creatives who guest lecture.
    ACW answer – no


  • We also asked for clarity around ACW expectations of Arts Portfolio Wales organisations in terms of paying their freelancers, given that a number of freelancers are experiencing difficulties being paid for cancelled/postponed contracts.
    ACW answer – We expect the APW organisations to meet their contractual, legal obligations to freelancers in full regardless of whether the work was completed and any guidelines such as Equity, MU etc re freelance payments. (Moral obligations in terms of expected but un-contracted future work are more difficult and have to relate to the circumstances of the individual organisation). We are also encouraging them to do whatever they can to sustain their communities and their sectors and we’d see meeting moral obligations to freelancers as a priority for our funding. We are happy to offer to broker and mediate between parties to try to ensure that the correct balance is struck.
    *If you don not believe an organisation is meeting their obligations you can contact ACW to support the negotiation.
  • We also asked about the relationship between ACW’s funds i.e. if small orgs should be applying to support individuals or should individuals apply direct
    ACW answer – Either could be an appropriate route. The former option is better where there is a track record of working with extensively with freelancers and/or there is an element of future proofing.

Other Key Sources of financial support:

*(this is a not an exclusive list of possible support)

ACW will be releasing two additional funds:

Stabilisation for organisations: -this will support loss of income, cashflow problems and prioritise organisations facing immediate/acute financial challenges.
Guidelines will be released on 16th April.
Fund will open on 21st April –  deadline on 8th May, decision by 5th June.

Stabilisation for individuals: 1k- 10k – this will support individuals to survive threat, build resilience and maintain creative their practice. It will be different to the urgent response fund in that it will require a creative proposal.
Guidelines will be released on 23rd April.
Fund will open on 29th May – deadline on 15th June, decision by 13th July.

Self Employed Income Support Scheme
This will pay 80% of your self employed income.
This is currently running for March, April, May but may be extended, pay outs are expected in June.
You need to have filed a tax return in 18-19 to be eligible.
HMRC will contact you in May if you are eligible.
You will get a taxable grant based on average profit over the tax years 16-17, 17-18, 18-19.
Useful information about it here:

Job Retention Scheme
If you were working PAYE and can no longer do that job you should be eligible for the job retention scheme. The government will pay 80% of your wage via your employer.
Useful information here: 

Universal Credit
The government has increased UC to £409.89 per month and removed the minimum income floor making it easier for Self Employed people to apply.
Useful info here

* Please note that if you are currently in receipt of tax credits it is recommended you take advice before applying to UC as you will loose access to tax credits.


Possible Key sources of advice:

  • If you are an equity member they run a free Equity’s Tax and Welfare Rights Advice Line.
    “We are open on a message only basis on Monday mornings 10-1pm, then open to take calls from 2-5pm. We are also open on Thursday all day – 10-1pm and 2-5pm. Call 0207 670 0223 or email”
  • has a lot of comprehensive and comprehensible advice
  • Siobhan Davies Studios are offering a range of free advice and support to UK dance artists


How Groundwork can help:

If you need additional help and support please send us an email. We are not experts in these matters but we are learning fast and will do our best to offer advice and/or signpost you. In particular if you need advice about ACW funding schemes get it touch.


Wishing you health and strength
The Groundwork Team

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