Additional $375,000 in grants for creators announced

A COVID-19 support scheme from the Copyright Agency offers new commission opportunities, plus help for writers' festivals and online projects.

The Copyright Agency has announced a full program of support for writers, visual artists and publishers in the face of challenges created by COVID-19.

Under this program, Copyright Agency will provide an additional $375,000 in grants, and bring forward the forecasted annual $1.8 million of grants under the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

‘The creative infrastructure that supports the production, promotion and sales of writing and visual arts work is being smashed. This means writers, visual artists and publishers are doing it very tough,’ said Adam Suckling, CEO, Copyright Agency.

‘COVID-19 could have a truly devastating effect on the work of Australian writers and visual artists and on the value and reach of Australian story telling.

‘While no one doubts the resilience of Australian creators, they do need support to nurture and bring to readers and audiences, works that entertain, challenge and inform us all. It is difficult to overstate just how hard people in the sector work, what a grind it can be and how precarious things are presently,’ Suckling added.

The additional $375,000 in grants will come from the Copyright Agency’s Future Fund.

How will it work?

There are six core elements to the program, including support for writers’ festivals that are planning to go digital, and new commissions for writers and visual artists. Here’s the breakdown:

Virtual writers’ festivals: This will support scheduled writers’ festivals to make their programs digitally available by paying Australian participants the participation fees they would have received if the program had proceeded normally. This money will cover over a hundred writers and interviewers in festivals already supported by the Copyright Agency including the Sydney Writers’ Festival and Byron Writers Festival. The Agency has included funds to cover assistance to other festivals that may not be able to proceed as normal.

Emergency action fund: This is comprised of $150,000 to be allocated in grants of between $5,000 – $20,000. It will focus on distributing this money as widely as possible so most grants will be around $5,000. The funding is open for writing and visual arts projects that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 or that are responding directly to it. Applicants to this program should ideally demonstrate that they have matched funding.

New commissioned literary works: The program will support the publication of between 20-30 works by Australian writers responding to the disasters Australia has faced in early 2020. The working title for this program is Our Year of Fire, Flood, and Plague: Australian writers respond to the challenges of 2020. Pieces from this series will be published in The Guardian. Money is also set aside to facilitate a book publication of these pieces. Writers of each of these essays will be paid the rates recommended by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

Funding for innovative online projects: This includes an amount to support innovative projects that are responding to COVID-19. Writers and interviewers across Australia are setting up smart new ways of putting Australian writers in front of audiences. This money is available for the payment of monies to writers who participate in such online projects.

New commissioned visual arts work: This component is for photographic and other visual documentation of the crisis for publication in journals, magazines and exhibition in a major gallery, and to possibly tour when the current events are resolved. The funding available for the generation of this work is $25,000.

Funding for visual arts events: This component of the program covers some funding to support virtual launches for events that Copyright Agency already supports such as the John Fries Award.

Information on the new guidelines and timelines under the initiative is available on the Copyright Agency website.

Brooke Boland
About the Author
Brooke Boland is a freelance writer based on the South Coast of NSW. She has a PhD in literature from the University of NSW. You can find her on Instagram @southcoastwriter.