The National Creative Relief Fund launched by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development in May 2020 has announced financial grants to 87 creative individuals and SMEs operating in the cultural and creative industries. The grant, which was ranged between 15 – 50,000 dirhams is distributed among 50 individuals and 37 companies to help them overcome the financial difficulties caused by COVID-19.

The UAE is the first country in the region to launch a stimulus program to support creatives affected by COVID-19, thus cementing the UAE's position as incubator of knowledge, culture and creativity. This initiative reflects the leadership's keenness to promote cultural practice in the UAE and provide support to this vital sector.

Of the people who have successfully received support through this grant work in performing arts, multimedia arts, and visual arts. The grant contributed to cover 100% of freelancers financial obligations for a month and 70% of SME’s financial obligation. One of the most prominent creative sectors that applied for the grant is the performing arts sector, followed by multimedia art, and visual arts sector.

There is an average number of 5 employees working in companies since their foundation in the country 6 years ago. The grant represents an important step to safeguard these companies during this crisis. The National Creative Relief Fund received applications from 58 nationalities residing in the UAE.

The Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development has evaluated all requests according to the predetermined criteria, including the size of the loss in income as a result of cancellation of contracts or projects, cash flow, efforts made for business sustainability in the coming months, and proof of work produced in the country in 2019.

Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development pointed out that the National Creative Relief Program reflects the UAE’s keenness to support individuals and companies operating in the cultural and creative industries and to support them in light of the difficult circumstances. Al Kaabi lauded the economic initiatives and incentives launched by the cultural and artistic institutions in the country, as it highlighted the strength, cohesion and cooperation of the creative sector in this crisis. She explained that the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development evaluated the requests to ensure that the most affected and deserving companies and individuals receive support.

"COVID-19 has presented new challenges and opportunities in the creative sector which we are currently studying to develop policies that will enable the growth of this sector and support with the ability to respond to any challenges in the future.” Noura Al Kaabi added, “Among the challenges that were presented in the process, the most prominent one was the legislative and regulatory environment in the cultural sector. This includes encouraging individuals to obtain freelance licenses to continue to practice in the cultural sector and organize their work and projects for such incentives. We studied community participation and various incentives that will provide more financial support to the cultural and creative sector through sponsors and companies. The Ministry is also working on the advancement of Intellectual Property protection and its governance to encourage authentic and original creative production within the country."

"The volume of interaction with the National Creative Relief Program has highlighted the urgent need for government intervention to sustain the creative ecosystem and help companies continue to carry out their businesses. We are working with our partners on a second phase of the National Creative Relief Program, details of which will be announced soon,” said Al Kaabi.

The National Creative Relief Fund came as an output of the National Survey that was conducted in April 2020 to understand the challenges facing the cultural and creative industries. The survey was launched by the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development in cooperation with members of the Arts and Culture and Creative Industries Councils and cultural organisations in the UAE. 1,451 individuals and companies which contributed to drawing the features of the first phase of the National Creative Relief Program. The Ministry participated in a number of dialogue sessions and virtual platforms to present its experience in supporting creators in this difficult stage and held meetings with counterparts from friendly countries to inform them about the UAE’s cultural practices and important achievements in the past few months and plans to implement in the future.