COVID-19 is having an unprecedented impact on communities in Australia and around the world. The Office for the Arts acknowledges the continuing effects of coronavirus (COVID-19) on the cultural and creative sector.

Government support for the cultural and creative sector in response to COVID-19

In recognition of the economic, social and national importance of the cultural and creative sector, the Government has provided significant additional, targeted support.

Advisory bodies to inform the COVID-19 response

Since August 2020, the Creative Economy Taskforce has provided strategic advice and support to the Government on the creative economy, particularly as Australia rebuilds from the effects of COVID-19. The Taskforce is comprised of 12 industry experts with extensive creative sector knowledge. The Taskforce has issued a statement endorsing the importance of vaccinations, calling for a clear and consistent economic and health approach to the reopening of the country, in line with the National Plan to transition Australia’s National COVID-19 Response. For further information, please refer to the Creative Economy Taskforce page.

A COVID-19 Arts and Health Advisory Committee provides advice, informed by health expertise and industry-specific knowledge, to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the cultural and creative sector on how to restart activity in a safe way. This included informing the Roadmap and National Principles for Reactivating Live Performance Venues and Events, which supported Australia’s reopening in the 2020 phase of the pandemic.

Targeted COVID-19 support for the cultural and creative sector

The Australian Government has provided substantial targeted COVID‑19 support for the arts and entertainment sector during the pandemic. This includes:

$200 million RISE Fund

The Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund was first announced on 25 June 2020 as part of the comprehensive COVID-19 Creative Economy JobMaker Package to support artists and organisations resume following disruptions caused by COVID-19. The initial investment of $75 million was extended on 25 March 2021 by $125 million, available until May 2022 or until funds are allocated.

This $200 million competitive grant funding program provides funds to arts and entertainment organisations to stage festivals, concerts, tours, exhibitions and events, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. The Fund supports increased employment opportunities, including the retention of artists and skilled workers in the arts and entertainment sector and allied industries.

More information on this funding opportunity is on the Funding and support page. If you have any questions or need further information, please email RISE@arts.gov.au, or telephone 02 6271 7971.

$50 million COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund

The COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund provides direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19. The Fund supports major theatre, dance, circus, music and other arts organisations continue operating during this period of severe disruption. It also supports these organisations plan pathways to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

More information on this funding opportunity is on the Funding and support page. If you have any questions or need further information, please email SustainabilityFund@arts.gov.au, or telephone 02 6271 7695.

$90 million Show Starter Loan Scheme

Now closed to applications, the Show Starter Loan Scheme supported up to $90 million of lending to assist eligible arts and entertainment businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 to access finance for new productions and events which stimulate job creation and economic activity.

The Show Starter Loan Scheme is being delivered through participating banks, backed by a 100% Commonwealth guarantee. More information about the Scheme is on the Funding and support page.

$50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF)

The Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF) opened in August 2020 and was then extended in April 2021 until 31 December 2021.

The TIF is supporting local film and television producers secure finance and move their projects into production, supporting thousands of jobs in the sector. The eligibility criteria, guidelines and information on how to apply are available from Screen Australia, who are administering the fund.

$40 million to Support Act

The charity, Support Act, has received $40 million from the Australian Government (announced in several stages – April 2020 and March 2021 through the Relief and Recovery Fund, and August 2021). This funding allows Support Act to provide much needed crisis relief to artists, crew and music and live performance workers who have lost employment or are experiencing hardship following the cancellation of gigs, music festivals and other performances.

These funds have also allowed Support Act to extend the Wellbeing Helpline to the entire creative industries sector and offer a dedicated helpline for Indigenous artists, crew and music workers. Further information can be found on the Support Act website.

$20 million SCREEN Fund

The Supporting Cinemas' Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund was announced in March 2021 through the Relief and Recovery Fund. It aims to support independent cinema operators who have experienced significant revenue decline due to COVID-19.

The SCREEN Fund is administered by Screen Australia, and details on eligibility criteria, guidelines and information and how to apply are available on their website.

$25.4 million for regional arts

The support for regional arts is made up of the following:

  • $10 million through the Relief and Recovery Fund announced in April 2020 for artists and arts organisations in regional Australia to develop new work. This additional funding was provided through the Regional Arts Fund. Further information about the Regional Arts Fund is available on the Funding and support page.
  • A new $3 million grants program — the Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism (CHART) program – was announced in April 2021. CHART, which aims to help community museums, galleries and historical societies to continue to offer appealing cultural tourism experiences in Australia's regions, will be administered by the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) during 2020‑21. The eligibility criteria and information about how to apply will be available from AMAGA.
  • $5 million in grant funding was announced in July 2021 through the Regional Arts Fund for arts organisations to promote and develop cultural events for tourists across regional Australia. Information about the Regional Arts Fund is available through the Funding and support page.
  • $2.4 million through the Festivals Australia program to grow audiences at festivals across regional Australia. Information about Festivals Australia is available through the Funding and support page.
  • $5 million for the Playing Australia Regional Recovery Investment was announced in April 2021. This funding is supporting performing arts touring in regional and remote Australian communities as they rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Guidelines and information on how to apply are available from the Australia Council.
  • $700,000 in total to the Darwin Aboriginal Art Fair Foundation and the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair in 2021-22 for the promotion of these events as regional arts tourism experiences.
  • Tourism Australia will support the Regional Arts Tourism package, promoting creative and cultural experiences in regions that have been hard-hit by the pandemic.

$12 million to Indigenous arts

$12 million of Relief and Recovery Funding has been delivered to Indigenous art centres and Indigenous art fairs supported through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program in 2019-20 and 2020-21. This funding assisted these organisations to maintain operations, support artists and their communities through the impacts of COVID-19, and enable the continued creation of artwork so income could be generated and markets maintained. Further information is available on the Funding and support page.

Information and support

Governments at all levels in Australia and peak arts and cultural organisations are providing regularly updated information on response packages and sector support.

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Creative Economy Taskforce

The Creative Economy Taskforce assists in the implementation of the Government’s creative economy support package and provides strategic guidance to rebuild the sector as Australia looks to emerge from COVID-19.

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FAQs

We’ve provided answers to frequently asked questions.

Personal support

Free and confidential counselling support and advice is available for all individuals working in the creative industries sector, through Support Act on 1300 731 303 or by contacting their Wellbeing Helpline on 1800 959 500. For more information visit the Support Act website.

If you are experiencing a personal crisis, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit the Lifeline website.

For any emergency medical situation call Triple Zero (000).

Contact the Office for the Arts

If you are unable to find the information you need on our website or through one of the links provided, please email us at COVID-19@arts.gov.au