COVID-19 is having unprecedented effects on communities in Australia and around the world. The Office for the Arts acknowledges the effect the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to have on the cultural and creative sector.

What is the Government doing 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 to the sector since the beginning of the pandemic.

Cultural and creative sector expert bodies established to inform the response

In August 2020, twelve industry experts with extensive creative sector knowledge were appointed to the Creative Economy Taskforce. The Taskforce is assisting with the implementation of the Government's $250 million Creative Economy JobMaker Package and providing strategic guidance to build the sector as Australia recovers from COVID-19. For further information, please refer to the Creative Economy Taskforce page.

A COVID-19 Arts and Health Advisory Committee was also established to provide 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 reactivate the sector in a COVIDSafe way. This includes providing advice on a Roadmap and National Principles for Reactivating Live Performance Venues and Events, which offer some additional certainty and guidance for the sector on reactivating safely. The Prime Minister, through National Cabinet, requested the development of the Roadmap. The guidance documents can be accessed on the Roadmap and National Principles page and further information about the Committee is available on the Department of Health's website.

Support for the cultural and creative sector announced in 2021

29 April 2021 — a new $3 million grants program — the Culture, Heritage and Arts Regional Tourism (CHART) program, will be administered by the Australian Museums and Galleries Association (AMaGA) to help community museums, galleries and historical societies to continue to offer appealing cultural tourism experiences in Australia's regions. The eligibility criteria and information about how to apply will be available from AMAGA. Applications for the program will open in 2021-22.

19 April 2021 — $5 million for the Playing Australia Regional Recovery Investment. This will support 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 will be available from the Australia Council.

11 April 2021 — extension of the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF) through to 31 December 2021 to continue to provide the certainty that screen producers need to secure financing and to move their projects into production.

26 March 2021 — a commitment of $20 million from the COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund for independent cinemas. The Supporting Cinemas' Retention, Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund is administered by Screen Australia. The eligibility criteria, guidelines and information on how to apply will be available from Screen Australia.

25 March 2021 — a $125 million extension of the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, available until 31 December 2021. This is in addition to the $75 million the Australian Government has allocated to the Fund to date. 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.

25 March 2021 — a further $10 million to Support Act to allow them to respond quickly and effectively to the continuing needs of artists, crew and music workers including sound and lighting technicians, managers, booking agents, promoters, venue workers and roadies still affected by COVID-19. This is in addition to the $10 million provided to Support Act announced in April last year. Further information can be found on the Support Act website.

Support for the cultural and creative sector announced in 2020

In 2020, the Australian Government announced almost $800 million in extra arts and entertainment funding. This is on top of a record annual investment of around $750 million in core funding, and on top of the substantial support provided to the sector through whole of economy measures.

On 26 September 2020, the Government announced an additional $22.9 million in 2020 21 to support Australia's national cultural institutions during COVID-19. This funding is ensuring that services and programs continue to be delivered to the Australian people.

On 25 June 2020, the Government announced a comprehensive COVID-19 Creative Economy JobMaker Package totalling $250 million to support artists and organisations to get back in business following the disruptions caused by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Creative Economy JobMaker Package comprises:

  • The Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund — $75 million in competitive grant funding in 2020–21 to provide capital to help production and event businesses to stage new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. 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.
  • Show Starter Loan Scheme — $90 million in loans to assist arts and entertainment businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 to access finance for new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The Show Starter Loan Scheme is being delivered through participating banks, backed by a 100 per cent Commonwealth guarantee. More information about the Scheme is on the Funding and support page. If you have any questions or need further information, please email ShowStarter@arts.gov.au.
  • Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF) — $50 million for Screen Australia for a Temporary Interruption Fund to kick start local screen production. The TIF is supporting local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again, which is supporting thousands of jobs in the sector. Filming of new productions was largely halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19. The eligibility criteria, guidelines and information on how to apply are available through Screen Australia, who are administering the fund.
  • COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund — $35 million to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19, which may include organisations in theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The Government is partnering with the Australia Council to deliver this funding. 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.

On 17 July 2020, the Government announced an additional $400 million for the Location Incentive to attract large budget international film and television productions to Australia over the next seven years. The Location Incentive complements the Location Offset. This will establish an ongoing pipeline of work for Australia's screen production sector. More information on this incentive is available on the Screen page.

On 9 April 2020, the Government announced a $27 million targeted support package, delivered through the Relief and Recovery Fund, to provide dedicated financial support to Indigenous visual art centres, regional arts and the live music and performance industry.

  • Indigenous art centres and Indigenous art fairs supported through the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program have access to $7 million to maintain operations, support artists and their communities and enable the continued creation of artwork so income can be generated through online sales and when the crisis has passed ($3.5 million in 2019–20 and $3.5 million in 2020–20). Further information is available on the Funding and support page.
  • The charity, Support Act, received $10 million to provide immediate 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 across the country. Further information can be found on the Support Act website.
  • Artists and arts organisations in regional Australia have access to additional funding of $10 million through the Regional Arts Fund in 2019–20 to develop new work. Further information is available on the Funding and support page.

New support measures delivered through the 2020–21 Federal Budget in addition to targeted COVID-19 funding comprise:

  • Screen Australia received $33 million to support the continued development and production of Australian content. This includes $30 million to support Australian film and television drama, children's and documentary productions and $3 million to cultivate quality Australian screenwriting and script development.
  • The Australian Children's Television Foundation received $20 million to increase support for the development, production and distribution of quality Australian children's screen content.
  • Australia's national collecting institutions received $31.2 million for capital works, storage and digitisation projects, and to support Trove.

Whole of economy measures

The Australian Government has prioritised the protection of Australians and has committed more than $18 billion to support the health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government is also committed to securing a strong and sustained economic recovery from the pandemic.

The 2020–21 Federal Budget contained a number of initiatives that are specific to the arts sector, as well as additional support for individuals and businesses that contribute to the Government's Economic Recovery Plan for Australia.

The JobMaker Plan includes the following supports that may benefit businesses in the cultural and creative industries:

  • establishing a $4 billion JobMaker Hiring Credit to provide an incentive for businesses to take on additional employees aged 16 to 35
  • providing an additional $1.2 billion through the Boosting Apprenticeships Wage Subsidy to support up to 100,000 new apprentices and trainees
  • establishing a $1 billion JobTrainer Fund to support free or low-fee training places for Australians to access new skills by retraining and upskilling
  • temporary full expensing of eligible depreciable assets and temporary tax loss carry-back to support investment and jobs
  • reforms to insolvency and the provision of credit, giving Australian small businesses the best chance to succeed and keep people in work
  • investing almost $800 million in a Digital Business Plan to improve productivity, jobs and income growth by enabling businesses to take advantage of digital technologies.

Full details are available on the 2020–21 Federal Budget JobMaker Plan website.

The Government is also delivering whole of economy supports to provide timely assistance to workers, households and businesses through a difficult time and have positioned the Australian economy to recover strongly, including:

  • assistance for businesses to keep people in a job
  • support for households including casuals, sole-traders, retirees and those on income support, and
  • regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business.

More information about the Government's whole of economy supports is available on The Treasury's website.

The Career Transition Assistance (CTA) program assists mature job seekers aged 45 and over with training and support to improve their digital literacy, job opportunities and identifying transferrable skills. For more information visit the Department of Education, Skills and Employment website.

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 $250 million creative economy support package and provides strategic guidance to build the sector as Australia looks to emerge from COVID-19.

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Fact sheets and FAQs

We’ve provided a range of fact sheets and answers to frequently asked questions.

Personal support

Free and confidential counselling support and advice is available for individuals 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 advice you need on our website or through one of the links provided, please email us.