In light of COVID-19 shutdowns arts bodies around Australia, including the Australia Council for the Arts and the City of Melbourne, have announced millions in new funding, programs and resources for artists, arts organisations and arts practitioners.
In its first response package, the Australia Council for the Arts has announced it will continue its coveted four-year funding of arts organisations from 2021-2024 (but has noted there will be adjustments), while also exploring how to further support organisations who did not receive the funding.
In addition, the Council will redirect $5 million worth of funds and resources to provide immediate relief for artists, organisations, groups and practitioners, as well as initiating further programs relating to First Nations support, sector roundtables, and an online learning centre.
Yet in doing so the Council has suspended its suite of grants and funding for upcoming 2020 application deadlines. These include Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups, Career Development Grants and Touring grants, alongside other funding opportunities. While the Council has committed to new support and development programs in place of these, details on what these programs will look like are still forthcoming as the Council continues to liaise with members of the arts sector.
Australia Council is also providing relief for those organisations and individuals who currently receive funding, including extending project timelines, moving forward funding and removing requirements on meeting audience KPIs.
In further funding announcements, the City of Melbourne has today committed $2 million in grants to artists and creatives to invest in new works, as well as digital presentation of works and performances.
This includes $4000 for individual artists or small arts organisations. Applications are open now and you can apply online.
In addition the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA), philanthropist Brett Kelly and Art Month Sydney have joined together to commit to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund. This is a 10-year plan that will support Australian artists and communities through ongoing funding.
The initiative is centred on the creation of ClubB50, a platform spurned by Brett Kelley which invites Australian art lovers to donate $5,000 a year for 10 years. The funds collected from ClubB50 will go to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund to support artists going through financial hardship not only due to COVID-19, but the summer bushfire crisis too.
Currently the fund is inviting donations from members of the public. Donations can be as little as $20 and more information on how to donate is available here.
These announcements come at a moment of great suffering, anxiety and instability in the arts. The consequences of COVID-19 are not only cultural and social, but have great financial bearing on artists individually, and huge impacts on the economy holistically.
As the Australia Council Chief Executive Adrian Collette said in a statement, “We must do all we can to support the arts community, for whom the impact of COVID-19 is catastrophic. Venues have shut their doors with little or no notice, organisations have been forced to cancel their programs and activities, and hundreds of thousands of arts workers have had significant negative impacts to their immediate and future livelihoods.”