Victorian government announces $32.3 million more for arts and culture support

The latest funding announcement includes money to support galleries, museums and arts centres and also live music industry workers.

The Victorian State Government has announced additional support for the state’s cultural sector as part of a $150 million Experience Economy Survival Package.

Unveiled on Wednesday 13 May, the new funding will support major tourist attractions, galleries and museums as well as sporting clubs and competitions across the state – from grassroots to elite –and the racing industry.

Of the $150 million, $32.3 million will support creative agencies and initiatives, including funding for the Geelong Arts Centre, Museums Victoria, National Gallery of Victoria, Arts Centre Melbourne and Melbourne Recital Centre.

This funding also includes $6 million to support live music industry workers and bolster the oversubscribed Sustaining Creative Workers initiative.

In total, the new funding will be channeled through three separate streams:

  • $26.3 million for immediate viability support for five of the state’s iconic arts and cultural institutions: Arts Centre Melbourne, the National Gallery of Victoria, Museums Victoria, Geelong Arts Centre and Melbourne Recital Centre.
  • $4 million for a dedicated Music Industry Support Package.
  • $2 million extra funding for independent creatives and micro-businesses through the Sustaining Creative Workers program.

These funds are in addition to the $16.8 million support package recently announced for the creative industries and bring the total survival package for jobs in the creative sector to more than $49 million.

Minister for Creative Industries the Hon Martin Foley said: ‘Victoria has the best galleries, museums and performance venues in the country – and one of the best live music scenes anywhere in the world. They are central to life in this state and this funding is vital to safeguarding jobs in the $31 billion creative industries economy.’

The Victorian Government’s total dedicated support for the creative industries in response to Coronavirus is now more than $49 million.

Read: When will you return to the arts after COVID-19

Geelong Arts Centre CEO Joel McGuinness said today’s funding announcement was generous and greatly welcomed. ‘Our organisation has been deeply affected by coronavirus, which has forced the temporary closure of our facilities and the cancellation of our scheduled performances and events,’ he told ArtsHub.

‘This commitment of funding is critical for the survival and ultimate revival of our organisation and means we can start to plan a “road to recovery” and look to the future.

‘Last month, we launched our #WhereCreativityMeetsAtHome initiative to share live-streamed and on-demand digital performances and creative experiences to our community. The arts plays a vital role in mental health and wellbeing and we are proud to have been able to innovate and adapt during this time to support our creative community and artists, and continue to provide cultural experiences for our audiences,’ McGuinness said.

Jenny Ryssenbeek, Executive Director of the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres (VAPAC) told ArtsHub: ‘VAPAC recognises this as a start to address the major metro-based venues (including Geelong) and we welcome the initiative by the Victorian Government, however they are yet to make a similar announcement to cover the regional venues which are as important to their communities, so we look forward to this being forthcoming to address this current shortcoming.’

Patrick Donovan, CEO, Music Victoria, said: ‘This $4 million for the music sector will provide some much needed support to the music industry that will help artists and music industry workers and businesses to upskill, adapt and develop new work, revenue streams and regional touring opportunities.

‘JobKeeper and JobSeeker won’t last forever, so it’s important that artists and businesses are supported during this crisis so they can continue to create and get ready for re-opening and resuming their careers. There are other businesses falling between the cracks of support, and Music Victoria will continue to work with the government to outline the gaps and further support that is required to sustain our music community,’ he added.

Anne Robertson, Executive Officer, Public Galleries Association of Victoria (PGAV) said the funding was welcomed by the sector.

‘The PGAV welcomes the additional $32 million to support the state’s creative agencies, including the National Gallery of Victoria, and the $11 million to assist Victorian tourism. Australia Council research shows that galleries and museums play a vital role in driving domestic and international tourism, particularly in regional Victoria. As galleries work towards reopening over the coming months and state borders reopen, we encourage the Victorian Tourism Council to work us on a campaign to promote what’s on offer at our regional galleries and reignite tourism across Victoria,’ Robertson said. 

Peak body Music Victoria has also been approached for comment. This story will be updated in due course.

Grassroots sport and tourism support

The Experience Economy Survival Package also includes $11 million for Victoria’s tourism industry, with funding for the Emerald Tourist Railway Board (Puffing Billy) and other not-for-profit and privately-owned visitor attractions, plus regional tourism boards and the Victorian Tourism Industry Council.

Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula said: ‘Victorians love turning out for big events and while they can’t do that currently, this support will go a long way to making sure our tourism, sport and racing bodies can rebound quickly as restrictions are lifted.’

The Experience Economy Survival Package sees an additional $40 million allocated to community sport and recreation bodies, including state sporting associations, leagues and clubs, to help them return strongly after the pandemic.

Read: Conquering fear in your re-opening strategy

A further $16 million will go to national sporting organisations, and $5.3 million will support the State Sport Centres Trust and the Kardinia Park Stadium Trust.

The Victorian Government will also invest $44 million in the state’s racing industry, to help secure jobs and bolster racing clubs across the state.

Minister for Community Sport Ros Spence said: ‘We’re making sure that community and grassroots sport survives this crisis so Victorians can get back to the clubs and sports they love.’

Collectively, the sports, tourism and cultural sectors supported by the Experience Economy Survival Package contribute nearly $70 billion to the Victorian economy and support hundreds of thousands of jobs, but they have been hit hard by measures to slow the spread of the Coronavirus and save lives.

This new investment by the Victorian Government is designed to help these industries ride out the impacts of the pandemic and reboot, rebound and recover.

Update: This story has been amended since publication to correct the total amount of funding being directed towards the cultural sector, and to provide a breakdown of where the funds are being allocated.

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