COVID-19 is having unprecedented effects on communities in Australia and around the world. The Office for the Arts understands that this is a difficult time for all Australians and we acknowledge the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the cultural and creative sector.

The Office for the Arts understands that this is a difficult time for all Australians and we acknowledge the impact coronavirus (COVID-19) is having on the cultural and creative sector.

What is the Government doing for the cultural and creative sector?

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, is consulting closely with the cultural and creative sector to understand the impacts and inform whole-of-government planning on the COVID-19 response.

On 17 March 2020, Minister Fletcher convened a virtual arts roundtable with peak creative and cultural organisations to hear directly about how they are responding to current challenges, as well as their suggestions for support measures. In addition, the Office for the Arts and the Australia Council are holding a weekly COVID-19 support workshop with peak arts bodies.

Minister Fletcher is also working with state and territory Arts and Cultural Ministers on responses to this unprecedented event.

The Government is delivering substantial economic support, which will assist workers and organisations in the cultural and creative sector.

Economic measures include support for individuals, including casuals and sole traders, assistance for businesses to keep people in work, and regulatory protection and financial support to keep businesses operating. More information is outlined in the section below on Economic support for the Arts Sector.

The Government recognises the economic, social and cultural importance of the arts sector. Cultural and creative activity contributed to $112 billion (6.4% of GDP) to Australia's economy in 2016–17.

The effects of COVID-19 on cultural and creative activity continue to be considered as part of the national response.

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Economic support for the cultural and creative sector

Economic support includes:

  • Providing $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee for up to 6 months for eligible businesses under the JobKeeper Payment. The payment will also be available to the self-employed.
  • Temporary doubling of the Jobseeker allowance and waiving the asset test and waiting period. Payments are available to sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income tests.
  • If arts workers are unemployed, been made redundant or had their income or hours reduced by 20% or more, they can get early tax-free access to their superannuation, capped at $10,000 this financial year and $10,000 next financial year (up to $20,000 in total).
  • Small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organisations (including charities) in the cultural and creative sector may be eligible for cash flow assistance to support them continuing to pay employees and settling bills, up to a maximum of $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000.
  • Not-for-profit arts organisations may also be eligible for Deductible Gift Recipient status, and those that are registered as charities may be eligible for Income Tax exemptions, Goods and Services Tax concessions, and Fringe Benefits Tax rebates and exemptions.
  • A guarantee of 50% of new unsecured loans to small and medium businesses.
  • A temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond.
  • Provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 have been amended for 6 months to provide temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent because of COVID-19.
  • Arts organisations may also be eligible for a 6-month deferral of loans being extended by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) to 30,000 more businesses across the country. This builds on the ABA's Small Business Relief Package, which now includes up to 98% of all businesses with a loan from an Australian bank.
  • Businesses with total business loan facilities of up to $10 million (up from the $3 million small business threshold) will now be able to defer repayments for loans attached to their business for six months. For more information visit the ABA website.
  • The Australia Council's $5 million Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief to the Australian arts sector in three streams—Survive, Adapt and Create.

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Where do I go for more information?

The Australian Government has announced a series of response packages to support businesses and individual incomes.

Information for individuals:

Information for businesses and employees:

A COVID-19 Business Liaison Unit has been established. You can email the Business Liaison Unit team or visit the COVID-19 Business Liaison Unit website for more information.

You can also download fact sheets with detailed information about Australian Government support for businesses to manage cash flow and retain employees on The Treasury's website.

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What about my funding?

We understand the serious impact COVID-19 is having on the delivery of arts and cultural activities, including those supported through our funding programs. We will continue to provide administrative support for funded activities. If your activity is affected, please contact your program officer who will work with you to reasonably and flexibly manage your funding agreement.

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State and Territory Government information

State and Territory Governments are also providing support to their communities and business. You can find out more on the website.

If you receive state or territory funding, please contact them directly:

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 Personal support

Free and confidential counselling support and advice is available for individuals in the music or performing arts industries 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).

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Keep up-to-date

Visit the following websites for the latest COVID-19 updates:

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Contact the Office for the Arts

The Office for the Arts remains open for business. If you are unable to find the advice you need on our website or through one of the links provided, please email us.

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