Nelson fully allocates $200,000 Covid-19 emergency fund


Nelson community groups says they are grateful for the city council’s $200,000 Covid-19 emergency fund.

Nelson city

Nelson city Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

Nelson City Council has now fully allocated the fund, which was created in April 2020 to help the local community cope with lost income from the pandemic.

The council has dished out the money to 27 different organisations through 32 grants.

To be eligible for the funding, community groups needed to have also applied for all government support they qualified for, such as the wage subsidy.

Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese said it was great to put the funding out in the community and “helping to keep arts organisations, community venues, and support services operating”.

The Theatre Royal was one of the community venue recipients, and manager Elaine Polack said the funding was essential.

“Without grants from the council, alongside other government subsidies, we would not have survived,” Polack said.

“We’ve had two disastrous years in a row for show cancellations,” she said.

“Only half of the community hires we had pencilled in and one-third of the planned professional touring shows could go ahead in 2021.

“This has had a massive impact on our revenue, but we still have large, fixed costs for our theatre, which don’t go away when shows are cancelled.

“Now that shows are beginning to return to the theatre under the traffic light system, performers and audiences are grateful the theatre is still here for the community to enjoy.”

The White House, a mental health day-support service, also received some funding from the grant.

Support manager Michelle Allwright said the organisation knew it would need more funding during the pandemic.

“For many of the people we support, lockdowns are incredibly isolating. We knew we would need to do more than our usual activities to draw people out of their homes to reconnect,” she said.

“We used the emergency funding from council to create fun weekend activities and events, like building raised vegetable gardens to assist with cooking shared kai.

“It brought people together after lockdown and reconnected them with a supportive and inclusive community of their peers, which is important for supporting people’s mental health and wellbeing.”

While the emergency fund has closed, the council’s Community Investment Fund is still available, with the next funding round considered in May 2022.

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