One year since the launch of the Audio & Radio Emergency Fund (AREF), organisers have announced the fund will be closed at the end of its current funding round.
The Radio Academy created the fund in April 2020, to help those in the radio and audio sectors who were facing hardship because of the coronavirus crisis. Since then, over £77,000 has been awarded in 165 grants of up to £1,000 to those experiencing hardship or needing help to continue working from home.
AREF was a joint response to the pandemic from The Radio Academy and AudioUK, with significant funding from the BBC, Audible, The Whickers, Folder Media, ReelWorld and Radio Today. Their support built on the existing Radio Academy Benevolent Fund, and was supplemented by £20,000 of generous individual donations through the Show You’re Listening initiative.
The need for AREF was made clear in the hundreds of applications received and assessed by the AREF funding panel, who were often confronted with the desperate and heart-breaking circumstances facing the industry’s freelancers.
One successful applicant wrote: “The moment COVID-19 struck the UK, my employment completely and utterly dried up overnight, leaving me with no income whatsoever, as I am a freelancer.”
Another wrote: “I cannot begin to explain what this means to my son and I. Thank you all so much for your help in what has just been the most horrible year. This will literally put food on the table.”
The chair of AREF, Radio Academy Trustee Dom Chambers, said: “There has been an amazing response to the fund at this time of national crisis, which reveals the deep levels of support individuals and organisations have for their fellow workers in the industry. A number of people have really stepped up to help out with their time and expertise. I would especially like to show appreciation and thanks to Will Jackson, John Dash, Nicci Holliday, Aradhna Tayal, Dixi Stewart, Cathy FitzGerald, Ahmed Hussain, Stuart Morgan, Anthony Gay and Tim Pemberton. In AREF, we have now established a mechanism of grant making which can be revived in the future if it becomes necessary.”
AREF is currently open for its final round, which closes for applications on 26th April 2021. Any remaining funds will be held in the Radio Academy’s Benevolent Fund for future needs.