Current Issue #488

Australia Council outlines $5 million COVID-19 'Resilience Fund'

Sia Duff
Marliya Choir perform at WOMADelaide 2020 as part of the Australia Council-backed Spinifex Gum project

The Australia Council has released preliminary details of its new Resilience Fund aimed at artists and organisations affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

While the Australia Council’s first batch of measures announced last week focussed on helping ease the strain on organisations that it already supports through relaxed reporting requirements and fast-tracking future payments, this new pot of money casts the net a little wider.

The first round of the new Resilience Fund will focus on three categories:

As per last week’s update, the $5 million in funding has been sourced from an existing pool of money freed up by the cancellation of unallocated investment programs slated to roll out for the remainder of this financial year. However, the Australia Council has clarified that one of these programs, the Arts and Disability Mentoring Initiative, will continue after all with applications re-opened and a new closing date of 14 April set.

Details on each Resilience Fund stream will be released when applications open on 3 April, with the only conditions currently outlined being the preclusion of organisations already receiving multi-year funding. Australia Council funding rounds are of course a highly competitive environment at the best of times; given the wide-reaching the impact of COVID-19 measures on the arts sector, it remains to be seen how far this $5 million will be able to stretch. 

While the government’s significant Jobkeeper wage subsidy package announced this week will be accessible to many arts organisations and artists – sole traders who can demonstrate a loss of 30 per cent income can apply for the subsidy – the high rates of casualisation and short-term gig work found across the arts and events sector means many might fall through the gaps of eligibility.

This week Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said he expected “billions” of the JobKeeper support package would flow to Australians working in the cultural sector. Whether this satisfies calls for a substantial, focused stimulus package for the arts sector, laid out in an open letter last week backed by prominent orgs around the country, remains to be seen.

As reported last week, the South Australian government has created its own, not dissimilar burst of new grants to inject $1.5 million into the local arts sector, with the first round closing yesterday after a flood of over 700 applications. Expressions of interest for a series of new Arts Organisations’ Collaboration Grants of up to $100, 000 close 14 April.

This article has been updated
Walter Marsh

Walter Marsh

Digital Editor
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Walter is a writer and editor living on Kaurna Country.

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