Australia Council’s $5m quick response grants provide rapid support for artists

The Australia Council for the Arts has distributed the first of its quick response grants and continues to offer opportunities for the arts sector to address the immediate impact of COVID-19.

In March, the Australia Council launched the much-needed $5 million Resilience Fund to support the livelihoods, practices and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations affected by COVID-19’s debilitating, sector-wide impact. 

‘The Resilience Fund is part of a broader program that Council has put together for the arts sector to respond to the impacts of COVID-19,’ said Alice Nash, the Australia Council’s Director, Arts Investment. ‘It is an immediate response for arts organisations, artists and arts workers to access critical funding when they need it most.’

The first two rounds of Survive grants have been delivered, providing critical support to 175 successful applicants in the first month.

Amrit Gill, Director, International Development at Australia Council for the Arts, who is currently assisting with the Resilience Fund, said the Council was working hard to deliver the grants on a rolling deadline, which meant new recipients are notified almost every week.

‘There’s been a massive loss of income [for the sector], along with a loss of opportunity,’ said Gill. ‘Artists and organisations have had to change track very quickly to sustain themselves to survive – that was the premise around the fund.’

The $5 million funding package consists of three separate programs: the Survive stream ($2000 for individuals and $5,000 for organisations) for those who have recently had work cancelled due to COVID-19; Adapt ($10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for organisations) to help support new ways of working and to enable artists to adapt their practice; and Create ($10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for organisations) for those who wish to make new work and develop creative responses during this time of disruption.

This funding can be combined with relief offered by other arts funding agencies, government departments, support services and philanthropy and has been specifically crafted through conversations with industry.

‘We have developed this program using input and ideas from the arts sector through various roundtables and discussions in addition to feedback  provided to us by artists and organisations  and people who have participated in our sector development programs,’ she said.

Understandably, the Survive funding stream has been the most popular so far, as artists look for opportunities to immediately access funding due to cancelled work opportunities.

‘The Survive grants have received the lion’s share of applicants and that’s not surprising given the need amongst individuals and organisations,’ Gill said.  

Those who apply for a Survive grant can expect to receive funding within a four-week period, while both the Adapt and Create grants can take up to six weeks to process. Applications are open now. 

‘We’ve had a big response from the sector in terms of applications and we’ve done what we can to turn it around as quickly as possible.’ 

How applicants are adapting to COVID-19

Those who have applied for funding so far are looking at ways to channel their resources into an online framework in order to keep their businesses running. 

‘We are seeing a trend of digital adaptation coming through and that seems like the most obvious place where people will put their energy – boosting their infrastructure or taking what would have been a face-to-face delivery of work or interaction into an online space and exploring and experimenting with that,’ Gill explained.

For those who haven’t applied for a grant before, the process of applying isn’t overwhelming. Take the time to familiarise yourself with the purpose of each funding opportunity and read the selection criteria, as well as the list of FAQs.

If something is unclear it’s best to get in contact with the Australia Council directly.

‘The underlying tip is call us or email us because we’re there to assist the sector,’ Gill explained. ‘We have a team of people at the Australia Council who speak to artists and arts organisations all day every day to help advise applicants on the best stream of funding to apply for.’

Applications are open now. Visit the Australia Council to apply to the Resilience Fund.