States step up with funding aid as coronavirus impact spreads

South Australia and the ACT have announced new measures to assist the sector during the COVID-19 emergency, while QLD has rolled out a second round of support programs.

With the Federal Government yet to announce specific programs to support the struggling arts sector following the shutdown of the arts industry nationwide, individual states and territories are stepping up with a range of new initiatives designed to support artists and organisations.

In Queensland, Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch announced a number of changes to existing grants programs in order to assist individual artists and arts organisations during these challenging times.

Enoch said the new initiatives equate to $2.5 million in support and follow on from last week’s announcement of over $8 million in relief measures for small to medium arts organisations, widely welcomed by the Queensland arts sector.

Read: Queensland announces $8M relief fund for coronavirus arts emergency

‘By reallocating existing funds and bringing funding forward, we’re able to act quickly and support the arts sector right now when they need it most,’ the Minister said on Wednesday.

‘The next round of Individuals Fund grants will be boosted to $500,000, with criteria expanded to encourage applications with a focus on building digital skills, creative development and small project activities; as well as the digital adaptation or delivery of works.

‘Applications will also open to access a total of $2 million under the Queensland Arts Showcase Program (QASP), to support a range of activities including creative development, digital content creation, and digital delivery,’ Enoch added.

Funding caps for QASP Arts Ignite and Arts Impact projects will increase to $80,000, and to $120,000 for QASP Arts Illuminate projects. 

Applications to the expanded QASP and Individuals Fund can be made from Friday 27 March 2020. Visit for more information.


Arts South Australia has re-configured its available grant funds to assist artists and organisations to respond to the immediate pressures they are experiencing.

Total funding of $1.5 million will be allocated in the coming weeks. Arts South Australia’s COVID-19 programs and opportunities are as follows:

Grants and funding

Innovating Practice: quick response grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for independent professional artists, towards the purchase, hire or upgrade of technology and equipment – to enable development and sharing of new and existing work via digital and virtual platforms. Applications close 5pm Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Creative Endeavour: quick response grants of $5,000 to $10,000 for independent professional artists, to undertake professional development or continue creative practice in whatever form that may take.  In assessing quick response grants, priority will be given to supporting artists who have had contracts cancelled, performances and tours cancelled, exhibitions postponed due to closed galleries, etc. Applications close 5pm Tuesday 31 March 2020.

Arts Organisations’ Collaboration: grants of up to $100,000 for major arts and cultural organisations, the small-to-medium sector and independent artists to achieve employment outcomes, explore new ways of working together, create and develop work and engage with audiences. It will be a condition of funding that the independent artists and smaller organisations will be the primary financial beneficiaries, with the major organisation contributing in-kind resources and organisational capacity (such as staff time or facilities) to the project or initiative which is the subject of the application. Applications close 5pm Tuesday, 14 April 2020.

All of these grants will be provided through simplified application and assessment processes. Guidelines are available on the Arts South Australia Website.

Arts South Australia is also working with many organisations funded through the Arts Organisations Program in order to provide them with supplementary funding for a predetermined amount.

Grant amounts have been determined following consideration of organisations that have experienced financial loss through cancelled tours, performances or other activities, their capacity to honour existing contracts with creatives, their capacity to continue to employ people and the available funding pool.

In excess of $500,000 will be allocated through this measure.

Other Initiatives 

Arts South Australia is also providing greater flexibility for artists and arts organisations by varying the purpose, conditions and reporting requirements for all existing grants, and applications submitted in recent grant rounds, where circumstances have changed as a result of COVID-19.

In addition, Arts South Australia has approved variations to current funding agreements to enable activity to be continued in different ways, or to enable funding recipients to honour existing contractual arrangements especially with artists and arts workers, or retain grant funding and apply it to other more pressing purposes

They have also simplified application and reporting requirements to reduce administrative burden and fast-track the release of funds.

In addition, a donation of $50,000 to Support Act has just been made to enable increased support towards the organisation’s Support Act Wellbeing Helpline and other vital services provided to the sector, particularly the Australian musicians and music workers and crew.

The new initiatives have been welcomed by the Arts Industry Council of South Australia (AISCA). In a statement released on Wednesday, the AISCA said it ‘welcomes these initiatives and congratulates the Premier and the Arts South Australia team for ensuring that these investments are focused on individual and independent artists, and on maintaining and encouraging employment.’

The statement added: ‘While AICSA is pleased with the South Australian State Government response – and we look forward to working with the SA Government on further initiatives and investments in the medium and longer term – only the Federal Government can provide the level of investment required to ensure a future for arts and culture in Australia, including South Australia.’

Read: $66 billion package will support the arts but does it go far enough? 


In the ACT, funding of up to $10,000 per artist will be available for Canberra artists to support arts development and the sustainability of their arts practices over the next 6-9 months.

HOMEFRONT funding is available across all art-forms including screen artists and includes funds for research and development, making new works or sharing works via online platforms, as well as artists’ fees and living expenses to undertake arts activities.

Artists may also apply for the creation and development of works to be exhibited or performed in public venues in the future, when it becomes safe to undertake these activities.

A total of $500,000 will be available. Applications will open on 30 March 2020 and close on 17 April 2020 at 5pm. Visit Arts ACT for more details.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts