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Australia Council announce first COVID-19 Response Package

26 Mar


COVID-19, Funding

The Australia Council has announced its first Response Package with the goal of supporting artists, arts practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations coping with the impact of COVID-19.

The Australia Council CEO, Adrian Collette announced a series of changes to reporting for individuals and organisations currently receiving funding/investment, re-distribution of funds to new targeted programs and creation of online and digital support solution. You can read the full ACA statement HERE.

Australia Council Response Package includes:

  • Reporting and other grant conditions relief
  • Adjustments to Four Year Funding 2021-2024
  • Suspending current investment programs and introducing new ones focused on immediate relief
  • An online learning series to assist our sector respond to the crisis
  • First Nations support
  • Sector roundtables
  • Digital support
  • Sector development initiatives
  • Research and analysis that will identify immediate and long term impacts of COVID- 19 on Australia’s cultural sector, and the broader public as a result.

Reporting and other grant conditions relief 

For organisations and individuals who have current Australia Council arrangements, we are adopting a flexible approach. 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.

You are encouraged to speak with your contract manager about options that can provide flexible support during these difficult times. If you’re not sure who that is, please email  and we will direct you to the right person.

Four Year Funding 2021-2024

In light of the impact of COVID-19, we are proceeding 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 available on 30 March 2020.

Suspending investment programs

With immediate effect, we have suspended many of our investment programs currently or due to open. Suspending programs will allow Council to concentrate our efforts on responding to the crisis situation faced by our artists and arts organisations and sustaining the sector throughout the immediate and short term.

Suspended programs include:

  • 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. We 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.

We will provide further detail on the new programs, including eligibility and opening dates for applications shortly.

Online learning series

In the coming week, we are launching 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 watch past roundtables and register for upcoming ones here.

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.

We will be implementing additional roundtables to work with the sector to codesign responses to COVID-19. More information to come.

Digital support solution

On Monday 23 March we launched our 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.

Other sector development initiatives

The rapidly evolving environment requires quick responses to sector development needs. We will be working with artists, organisations, industry and government to deliver a development program to assist our cultural sector through this period.

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

Other government support

All artists, art practitioners, arts groups and arts organisations should also be looking at the Government’s measures to provide hardship support.

The Government has temporarily waived the asset test and waiting periods for the Jobseeker allowance, while a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement will be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients. This effectively doubles the current JobSeeker allowance.

Small and medium sized arts organisations such as theatre companies, Indigenous art centres, small venues and many others may be able to draw on business support measures announced on 23 March 2020.

The Government is providing payments of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not-for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will provide cash flow support to help eligible businesses and not-for-profits keep operating and retain staff. This includes creative and cultural businesses and not-for-profits.

A loan guarantee scheme will also support small to medium-sized businesses. There are no charges for accessing the scheme, and it will be repayment-free for six months. The maximum loan is $250,000, for a term of up to three years. Creative and cultural businesses are eligible to apply. This complements $8 billion in measures announced by Australian banks to support small business by deferring small business loan repayments for six months.

In addition, the Department of Social Services has a hotline 1300 653 227 and web advice on support for workers who lose income because of COVID-19 health measures. The Treasury Business Unit also has advice on all other financial measures for small business.

Further details about the measures can be found at:

The Australia Council is undertaking analysis to identify in more detail how artists and organisations can access the Government stimulus packages. We will update with more information as it becomes available.

Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The ArtsGovernment of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Lottery West, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.