Last night (25 March), Australia Council for the Art released its own statement and action plan to battle Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Describing its first Response Package to support artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations coping with the impact of COVID-19, Chief Executive Adrian Collette said: ‘We acknowledge the hardship and isolation felt by artists and practitioners at this time, and the impact that temporary closure of many arts organisations is having on our collective wellbeing.
‘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.
What the Package includes
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
We 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. We are working with the Australian survey organisers to draw results together in a national sector-wide summary. We 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.