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

The Office for the Arts understands that this is a challenging 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, understands the serious impacts of COVID-19 on the arts sector.

The Government is delivering substantial economic measures, which include support for workers and organisations in the cultural and creative sector.

In recognition of the economic, social and national importance of the cultural and creative sector, the Government has provided $677 million of additional, targeted support to the sector in response to the pandemic.

The Government announced a $250 million package on 25 June 2020 to support artists and organisations to get back in business following the disruptions caused by COVID-19. The COVID-19 Creative Economy Support Package addresses urgent needs within the sector and complements existing whole-of-economy support and assistance measures already in place.

Guidelines are now available for two of the Creative Economy Support measures—the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund and the Arts Sustainability Fund. See below for more information.

On 17 July, the Government also 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.

These measures build on the $27 million targeted support package announced by the Government on 9 April, providing dedicated financial support to Indigenous visual art centres, regional arts and the live music and performance industry.

The COVID-19 Creative Economy Support Package comprises:

  • Seed Investment to Reactivate Productions and Tours—$75 million in competitive grant funding in 2020–21 through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund. This program will provide capital to help production and event businesses to put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. Grants of varying sizes will be available, from $75,000 through to $2 million. More information on this funding opportunity is provided below.
  • Show Starter Loans—$90 million in concessional loans to assist creative economy businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The loans program will complement the RISE Fund and will be delivered through commercial banks, backed by a 100 per cent Commonwealth guarantee.
  • Kick-starting Local Screen Production—$50 million for Screen Australia for a Temporary Interruption Fund that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again, which will support thousands of jobs in the sector. Filming of new productions has largely been halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.
  • Supporting Sustainability of Sector-Significant Organisations—$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 fields including theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The Government will partner with the Australia Council to deliver this funding. More information on this funding opportunity is provided below.
  • Creative Economy Taskforce—establishment of a ministerial taskforce to partner with the Government and the Australia Council to implement the JobMaker plan for the creative economy.

Following the successful development of guidelines to safely reopen our National Collecting Institutions and the world-class COVID-Safe Guidelines developed by the Australian Screen Sector Task Force to support and assist the screen production sector, the Government is also working through the National Cabinet to develop a broader roadmap to reopen for the arts and entertainment sector to protect the public and workers. The Prime Minister will seek National Cabinet endorsement of national live entertainment reopening protocols.

The guidance for the concessional loans program is currently being developed and will be released as soon as practicable once the agreed processes relating to spending public money are in place.

Live Music Australia

The Live Music Australia program is a competitive grants opportunity for small to medium sized venues that support quality original Australian live music. The program will deliver a total of $20 million in funding over four years. There are two opportunities per year providing $2.5 million in each round.

The first year of funding in 2020–21 includes support for activities that assist live music venues to become operational and get back on their feet following the impacts of COVID-19 on the music and entertainment industry.

Applications are now open for the new Live Music Australia program. For more information, visit the Live Music Australia funding page.

Whole of economy measures

Many businesses and organisations in the cultural and creative sector are also able to draw on the Government's substantial economy-wide measures. To support the economic recovery, the Government is extending and further tailoring economic measures to support sectors, regions and the communities that will continue to face challenges.

The JobKeeper Payment is providing critical support for the cultural and creative sector. The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research has found that more than 90 per cent of people in the sector had employment arrangements that meant they could receive the JobKeeper Payment. The Government is extending the JobKeeper Payment to March 2021. Support will be targeted to businesses and not-for-profits that continue to be significantly impacted by COVID-19. The payment rate of $1,500 per fortnight for eligible employees and business participants will be reduced to $1,200 per fortnight from 28 September 2020 and to $1,000 per fortnight from 4 January 2021. From 28 September 2020, lower payment rates will apply for employees and business participants that worked fewer than 20 hours per week prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Further information is available in the Extension of the JobKeeper Payment factsheet (PDF).

Workers may be eligible for other government assistance, including JobSeeker Payment. The Government will continue to pay the Coronavirus Supplement to eligible income support recipients until 31 December 2020. The Supplement will continue to be $550 per fortnight for payments up to and including the reporting period ending 24 September. Beyond this date, the Coronavirus Supplement will be $250 per fortnight. Please visit The Treasury website for more information. For useful scenarios relating to the arts and cultural sector visit our JobSeeker page.

Where do I go for more information?

We have compiled answers to address some of your most frequently asked questions.

In addition we have links below to the Australian Government's response packages to support businesses and individual incomes.

Information for individuals:

JobSeeker

The Government’s whole-of-economy support measures during the COVID-19 response include changes to JobSeeker.

JobKeeper

The Government’s whole-of-economy support measures during the COVID-19 response include a JobKeeper payment for eligible businesses.

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.

Organisations in the cultural and creative sector may also be able to access a range of other whole-of-government measures including:

  • Cash flow assistance for small and medium businesses and not-for-profits (including charities), up to a maximum of $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000.
  • Increase to the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000.
  • Government may guarantee 50 per cent of new unsecured loans to small and medium businesses
  • Temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent because of COVID-19.
  • Temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond.
  • 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.
  • If arts workers are unemployed, have been made redundant or have seen their income or hours reduced by 20 per cent or more, they can get early tax-free access to their superannuation, capped at $10,000 in 2019–20 and $10,000 in 2020–21—up to $20,000 in total.
  • 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.

Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund

The RISE Fund is a $75 million grant opportunity available in 2020–21 to support the arts and entertainment sector to reactivate. This Fund targets sector organisations who are seeking to restart, re-imagine or create new activities. The program is intended to assist by providing finance for the presentation of new or re-shaped cultural and creative activities and events.

RISE will support the employment of artists and workers in the arts and entertainment sector, as well as in connected industries such as hospitality, accommodation, transport and freight. This will all contribute to rebuilding Australia's economy, as well as enhancing community wellbeing and access to cultural experiences across Australia, including in outer metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

The RISE guidelines include eligibility criteria and information about the application and funding process. The Fund will be open for applications on 31 August 2020 and will remain open until all funds are allocated or until 31 May 2021, whichever is sooner.

If you have any questions or need further information, please email the RISE Fund at RISE@arts.gov.au, or telephone 02 6271 7971.

COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund

The COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund is a $35 million targeted grant opportunity for arts organisations that receive multi-year operational funding from the Australian Government. This funding acknowledges that these arts organisations are key employers of Australian artists and art workers, the leading presenters of high-quality work to audiences across Australia and the training ground of Australia's upcoming performing artists.

The operations and financial stability of these organisations have been significantly affected by COVID-19, putting some organisations at financial risk. The COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund will assist the sector to continue its activities by providing necessary finance to plan a pathway for recovery from the effects of COVID-19. Funding will support employment and contribute to rebuilding Australia's economy, as well as enhancing community wellbeing and access to cultural experiences across Australia.

The Sustainability Fund guidelines include eligibility criteria and information about the application and funding process. The Funding will open for applications on 31 August 2020 and will remain open until all funds are allocated or until 31 May 2021, whichever is sooner.

If you have any questions or need further information, please email the Arts Sustainability Fund at SustainabilityFund@arts.gov.au, or telephone 02 6271 7695.

Relief and Recovery Fund

The package of arts measures delivered from the Relief and Recovery Fund, announced on 9 April, is a $27 million targeted support package for areas of the cultural and creative sector identified as being most affected by COVID-19, with dedicated financial support immediately available to Indigenous 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 now 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.

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. Applications for this funding are now open. Further information can be found on the Support Act website.

Artists and arts organisations in regional Australia are now able to access additional funding of $10 million through the Regional Arts Fund to develop new work and explore new delivery models.

Australia Council's Resilience Fund

The Australia Council's $7 million Resilience Fund is providing immediate relief to the Australian arts sector through three funding streams—Survive, Adapt and Create.

The Resilience Fund is supporting the livelihoods, practice and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Fund closed on 1 June and received more than 7,000 applications. The Australia Council is currently developing guidelines for future funding opportunities to facilitate the recovery of the arts sector.

More information is available on the Australia Council's website at www.australiacouncil.gov.au.

Australian screen content

In recognition of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic on production of Australian screen content, the Government is suspending Australian programming obligations for the remainder of 2020. The suspended obligations are:

  • Australian drama, Australian documentary and Children's and Preschool program obligations on commercial television broadcasting licensees until the end of 2020.
  • The licence condition requiring minimum levels of expenditure by subscription television broadcasting licensees on new eligible drama programs until the end of 2020.

Australia's screen production sector is facing significant pressures with COVID-19 effectively halting the production of Australian screen content. The Government is accelerating work to determine the future extent of Australian content obligations on free-to-air television broadcasters, and whether these should apply to streaming services.

An options paper, co-authored by the ACMA and Screen Australia, is guiding the Government's work to determine the future extent of Australian content on free-to-air television broadcasters, and whether obligations should apply to streaming services. This work is critical to the future of the culturally and economically important Australian film and television production sector. A copy of the paper is available at www.communications.gov.au/have-your-say/supporting-australian-stories-our-screens-options-paper. The options paper was released for public comment on 15 April and consultation closed on Friday 3 July 2020.

The Government will continue to work with the industry to further explore the ongoing issues facing the media and screen production sectors.

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.

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 their website.

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

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.

Fact sheets and FAQs

Supporting Australia’s Creative Economy

Published

The package addresses urgent needs within the sector and complements existing whole-of-economy support and assistance measures already in place. It builds on $27 million provided through the Relief and Recovery Fund to support Indigenous visual arts, regional arts and live music and performance. In total, the Government has now provided $277 million of targeted specific assistance to the cultural and creative sector in 2020, on top of support through JobKeeper, JobSeeker and Cashflow Payments.

Arts Industry Support Package—Support Act: crisis relief to artists, crew and music workers

Published

The $10 million contribution to the performing arts industry charity Support Act will enable it to provide immediate crisis relief to artists, crew and music workers affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Arts Industry Support Package—supporting Indigenous visual arts centres

Published

The $7 million contribution to the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support (IVAIS) Program will support Indigenous Art Centres and Indigenous Art Fairs during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. Payments will be made directly to IVAIS-funded Indigenous Art Centres and IVAIS-funded Art Fairs to maintain operations and employment levels, ensuring that they continue to support artists and their communities.