COVID-19 support from Australia Council

COVID-19 support from Australia Council

Australia Council has announced $5M in funds have been redirected as they suspends KPIs, initiate online learning and industry roundtables.

Australia Council Chief Executive Adrian Collette said: “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.”

“The impact is not just on our cultural and creative sectors. The flow on effect is immense for the broader community and economy, not least the many thousands more employed in related industries driven so strongly by the arts and creative industries, such as tourism, hospitality, regional and community businesses.”

“We have freed up funds – as much as we are able – to immediately respond to the critical situation faced by Australian arts and culture. We are introducing new support and sector development programs… We are also working closely with the Office for the Arts and our Minister to provide advice and information to assist the Government’s response to this urgent crisis,” he continued.



Four Year Funding 2021-2024

The package will proceed with Four Year Funding 2021-2024 whilst identifying how to keep as many organisations as possible funded through this critical period. More information will be sent to organisations on 30 March 2020.


Suspending investment programs

With immediate effect, many of investment programs currently or due to open have been suspended, to redirect efforts to coronavirus relief. These are:

  • Career Development Grants for Individuals and Groups, closing date 2 June
  • Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups, closing date 2 June
  • Australia Council Fellowships, closing date 2 June
  • Arts Projects – Organisations, closing date 2 June
  • Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund, closing date 2 June
  • Contemporary Music Touring Program (CMTP), closing date 2 June
  • International Arts Strategy Outcomes Fund, closing date 19 May
  • National Arts and Disability Awards 2019-21, closing date 7 April
  • Arts and Disability Mentoring Initiative 2019-21, closing date 7 April
  • Rights Fund for Literature, closing date 28 April
  • Translation Fund for Literature, closing date 28 April
  • Travel Fund for Literature, no closing date


Introducing new programs

The Australia Council has repurposed all available uncommitted funds from this financial year to immediately respond to the critical situation faced by Australian arts and culture. They will redirect approximately $5M to new programs designed to provide immediate relief to Australian artists, arts workers and arts organisations to support their livelihoods, practice and operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details on the new programs, including eligibility and opening dates for applications will be published shortly.


For current grants and arrangements with Australia Council

For organisations and individuals who have current Australia Council arrangements, a flexible approach has been adopted. This includes:

  • Removing requirements on meeting audience KPIs
  • Bringing forward payments
  • Delaying or simplifying reporting requirements
  • Varying the purposes and outcomes of funding
  • Extending timelines for projects
  • Allowing organisations to use money provided for a deliverable to be repurposed to pay essential bills such as wages, rent or utilities.


Online learning series

In the coming week, Australia Council will launch Creative Connections, an online webinar series for the cultural sector, offering practical, accessible and useful professional development. The content will be delivered by industry experts on key topics and emerging themes that will assist our sector navigate the immediate and long term impacts of COVID-19.

Themes will include crisis management and communication, arts in the digital age as well as ongoing issues of climate change, intercultural working with First Nations and inclusive learning practices.

These sessions will be recorded and published on the Australia Council website for public engagement and wider reach.


First Nations support

Australia Council have commenced a weekly series of First Nations’ roundtables for artists, creatives and organisations for updates and discussion of the implications of COVID-19 for our First Nations independent and small to medium sector, live performance and public gatherings. The first roundtable was held on Friday 20 March. Future roundtables will be held each Friday from 2pm-3pm. You can register for upcoming roundtables and watch previous roundtables via their website.


Other sector roundtables

From Tuesday 24 March 2020, the Office for the Arts and Australia Council began a weekly COVID-19 Support workshop with peak arts bodies. This week, representatives from the COVID-19 Business Liaison Unit, the Australian Banking Association and the Department of Social Services provided information on support available for creative and cultural organisations and their people. More information to come.


Digital support solution

On Monday 23 March Australia Council launched their new Facebook Group Arts and creative industry: digital support as the first stage of our digital support solution. Content can be shared and promoted on this new channel. Importantly, it will be a professional development resource for all individual artists and small to medium organisations who may not have the technology, skill sets or bandwidth to successfully present and represent their work online through live streaming or other methods.


Research and analysis

A number of surveys are underway in Australia and around the world to gather data on the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural sector. Australia Council are working with the Australian survey organisers to draw results together in a national sector-wide summary. They will also convene a working group to facilitate future data collection of longer term effects. If you are currently running a survey or considering it, please get in touch at

Arts Northern Rivers is encouraging all local creatives to contribute to the following surveys dedicated to the Arts in Australia in response to COVID-19.

Regional Arts Australia are partnering with PAC Australia to distribute a survey they have compiled specifically for Performing Arts Centres in Australia.

NAVA is also working closely with national peak organisations as well as state and federal ministries and government departments to understand these impacts and represent them in detail, so that government at all levels is in the best position to consider urgent policy and funding responses. Take the survey here which also submits information to the #Ilostmygig database.


Other government support

All artists, art practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations should also be looking at the Government’s measures to provide hardship support.

The Government has temporarily waived the asset test and waiting periods for the Jobseeker allowance, while a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement will be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients. This effectively doubles the current JobSeeker allowance.

Small and medium sized arts organisations such as theatre companies, Indigenous art centres, small venues and many others may be able to draw on business support measures announced on 23 March 2020.

The Government is providing payments of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will provide cash flow support to help eligible businesses and not-for-profits keep operating and retain staff. This includes creative and cultural businesses and not-for-profits.

A loan guarantee scheme will also support small to medium-sized businesses. There are no charges for accessing the scheme, and it will be repayment-free for six months. The maximum loan is $250,000, for a term of up to three years. Creative and cultural businesses are eligible to apply. This complements $8 billion in measures announced by Australian banks to support small business by deferring small business loan repayments for six months.

In addition, the Department of Social Services has a hotline 1300 653 227 and web advice on support for workers who lose income because of COVID-19 health measures. The Treasury Business Unit also has advice on all other financial measures for small business.

Further details about the measures can be found at:

The Australia Council is undertaking analysis to identify in more detail how artists and organisations can access the Government stimulus packages. We will update with more information as it becomes available.

For more information head to the Australia Council.