Cash for the arts in latest COVID sustainability funding round

By Melissa Coade

Monday August 30, 2021

Minister for the Arts Paul Fletcher
Minister for communications, urban infrastructure, cities and the arts Paul Fletcher. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Circus Oz, Design Tasmania and Opera Australia have received a share in $5.5 million worth of grant money in the latest round of the federal government’s COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund.

In a statement on Monday, federal minister for the arts Paul Fletcher said the grants offered a lifeline to three of the nation’s leading arts organisations to support their ‘ongoing viability’ during the coronavirus pandemic. 

He added that the money would assist the groups continue to deliver world-class performances once Australia started to emerge from public health order restrictions.

“We know the arts sector continues to face challenges unique to their industry, which is why we acted quickly in establishing the Sustainability Fund last year to support Australia’s leading arts organisations and keep their artists employed,” Fletcher said.

“This targeted assistance will provide critical support to Circus Oz, Design Tasmania and Opera Australia, as these leading arts employers make sure they are still in operation.”

According to the minister, the federal government has committed over $1 billion into the struggling arts and creative sector during the 2021-22 financial year.

The COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund was first announced in June 2020 ‘to provide a pathway to recovery’ for significant Australian arts organisations that have been impacted by the pandemic. The federal government recently topped up the $50 million fund as part of its $475 million creative economy support package. 

Small and medium arts groups that receive multi-year funding are also being called to apply for the program.

Creative Economy Taskforce member Rachel Healy, who is also the Co-Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival, said these groups in particular needed financial support immediately.

“These organisations need financial assistance now so they can retain highly skilled staff and quickly scale back up to deliver creative events and activities for the benefit of all Australians when it is safe to do so,” Healy said.

To date, more than half of the fund has been allocated to 12 different organisations, keeping an estimated 2,000 people employed.

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