COVID-19: Avenues of Support for Artists and Arts Workers

Artists and arts workers are seeing their work evaporate. Multicultural Arts Victoria recognises that jobs in the industry will be scarce for the immediate future as self-generated income disappears.

Along with our counterparts in the sector we are urging governments to provide urgent support.

In the meantime, here are some ways that may assist you at this critical time. 

Also, there is a Facebook group, ‘Australian Arts amidst COVID-19‘, that has updated info and tips for artists and arts workers during this period (info organised under tags on the right-hand side).

Here is a useful guide about improving mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

SBS is committed to informing all Australians about the latest coronavirus developments.
News and information about coronavirus (COVID-19) is available in 63 languages.

Guide to Government COVID-19 Assistance for the Arts

This guide sets out various assistance initiatives that are being provided by Federal and State/Territory governments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to assist artists and arts workers, the guide is ordered as follows:

  • measures applicable to arts organisations and individual artists;
  • measures are then ordered by relevance to arts organisations and individual artists.

The intention is for this to be a “live” document, updated as circumstances change.

Federal Government

The Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper payment to help keep more Australians in jobs and support businesses affected by the significant economic impact caused by the Coronavirus.

Around 6 million workers will receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) through their employer.

The payment ensures eligible employers remain connected to their workforce and will help businesses restart quickly when the crisis is over.

Centrelink Update from 1:30pm, 23 March 2020 
  • Do not go into offices if it can be avoided. Staffing has had to be reduced to accommodate social distancing measures.
  • Use the mGov website. It may go down from time to time due to demand – please keep trying.
  • If you have not been able to get on, they will allow you to register an “intent to claim” that can be backdated on the day.
  • If you do not already have a CRN (customer reference number), you now DO NOT need to go to an office. They will make this available online and over the phone.
  • Call centre hours increase to 8am to 8pm local
  • 5000 staff are being recruited for call centres. Register here as a casual.
  • Keep persevering with your application. They will get backdated to the day you lodge your intent to claim.

The Victorian Government is helping communities to stay connected during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and beyond with the Let’s Stay Connected Fund. The fund provides grants between $5,000 and $200,000 to support community-led initiatives.

The program will support innovative, community-led and community-based initiatives that build connection, reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and can be implemented quickly – providing much-needed support across the state. It will also support existing initiatives that can be rapidly scaled up to a local, regional or state level – delivering innovative and practical solutions that will benefit communities as soon as possible.

City of Melbourne
Arts grants

What creative work would you develop or present with the support of an arts grant? Whether you compose, paint, sculpt, dance, write, perform, film or produce work unlike anything else, grants of up to $20,000 are available to make your 2021 project happen.

Grants are available to artists, creatives and small to medium arts organisations from all backgrounds and abilities in three categories:

  • arts projects
  • Aboriginal arts projects
  • arts residencies.

Support will be considered for one-off projects, a specific component of an annual program or a creative development, resulting in a public outcome within the City of Melbourne boundaries in 2021.

Projects presented online and creative developments without a public outcome will also be eligible if they can demonstrate a connection to the City of Melbourne.

Applications open 1 September and close 28 September.

Writer in Residence program

Moreland’s Writers in Residence program provides a unique opportunity for three writers to develop their practice in one of Australia’s most thriving arts communities.

The Moreland Writers in Residence Program is open to emerging, mid-career and established writers including writers of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama, children’s literature, script and screenwriting for stage, radio, television and film, and podcasts.

Applications close 20 September 2020.

Creative Victoria
Unlocking Capacity grant

Unlocking Capacity offers producers a multi-year grant of up to $35,000 per annum for up to three years to support targeted skills development activities. The multi-year funding aims to enable producers to “unlock” their capacity, build their skills and networks and develop a sustainable practice.

Up to $35,000 per annum for up to 3 years, per producer.
A total of nine Unlocking Capacity grants will be available throughout 2020-2023.

Round 2 Opens: 20 August 2020
Round 2 Closes: 5pm, 17 September 2020


Creative Learning Partnerships (CLP) provides the opportunity for Victorian schools to partner with creative professionals or arts and cultural organisations. It involves school communities in creative partnership projects while providing students, teachers and creative professionals with diverse and challenging learning experiences.

$10,000 for individuals, $35,000 for organisations, to conduct a program in a school, for 20 days or more, from Term 2 2021.

Round Opens: 9am, Thursday, 6 August 2020
Round Closes: 5pm, Thursday, 1 October 2020


Council is calling for EOI’s for our annual art exhibition and we hope you are interested to apply.

The exhibition showcases and celebrates the work of artists who live, work or are connected to the City of Whittlesea. It is a fully accessible exhibition providing a space for local artists to exhibit and promote their work.

The theme for this year’s exhibition is: New Futures

The exhibition will be held weekdays from Thursday 26 November until Monday 21 December 2020 in: The Great Hall, Council Offices in the Great Hall, 25 Ferres Boulevard, South Morang

Entries close: 5pm Monday 5 October 2020

Australia Council for the Arts
Cherish II Fund

The Cherish II Fund is in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption experienced by the First Nations arts and cultural sector and community.

The Cherish II Fund has four (4) grant streams, they are:

  • Living Libraries: supporting our cultural knowledge and intergenerational collaborations
  • Creative Practice: supporting artistic creative expression
  • Creative Entrepreneur: supporting business models to expand your practice
  • Creative Workforce: supporting our artworkers in a digital world
First Nations Contemporary Music Programs

The First Nations Contemporary Music Program is one of five programs under the Australian Music Industry Package announced in the 2019-2020 Budget. The purpose of the Grant is to deliver funding under the Indigenous Contemporary Music Program (the Program), to provide development opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians and bands throughout Australia.

Applications for both of these programs close on 6 October 2020.


The Regional Performing Arts Touring program (Playing Australia) supports performing arts to reach regional and remote communities across Australia. Grants are available to support the net touring and other designated costs associated with tours. There is no limit on the amount that can be requested.

Playing Australia is open to applications for funding with some adjustments to the guidelines accounting for COVID-19 conditions.

The next closing dates are:
Tuesday 6 October 2020 for projects starting after 1 January 2021
Tuesday 2 March 2021 for projects starting after 1 June 2021
The rounds close at 3pm AEST on the closing date.


In response to the strange and trying times we find ourselves in, YIRRAMBOI would like to acknowledge the disruption and upheaval that is being felt throughout the First Nations arts community.

YIRRAMBOI are putting the call out for Expressions of Interest (EOI) from First Nation creatives to create, develop or adapt new works during the isolation period.

Each project will receive up to $1000 in financial support and will have the option to be uploaded to YIRRAMBOI’s social media pages and/or be further developed into a showing/showcase piece for YIRRAMBOI Festival, 6 – 16 May 2021.

Applications are open now.


Applications are now open for Australia’s most significant commission for moving image art, worth $100,000

ACMI is inviting artists to apply for Australia’s most significant commission for moving image art. The successful artist receives $100,000 from The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and professional support from their curators including highly specialised curatorial, production and presentation expertise.

Applications are open now.


If you’ve been iso-dreaming up an event, an exhibition or even a physically distanced arena spectacular, Melbourne Fringe want to know about it.

Emerge into the new world with the Festival that celebrates creativity and diversity in all its glory. Online, in person, or a bit of both, Melbourne Fringe is making space for your art.

Registrations close 13 September, 2020.

Arts Access Victoria
Stella Young Award 2020

Arts Access Victoria cherishes the memory of collaborator Stella Young and honours her by awarding a young Australian disabled artist each year with $3,000.

This is a great opportunity for young disabled artists aged between 16 and 30 years old to be recognised for their impact on disability activism and culture through their artistic practice (in comedy, performing arts or screen culture).

Applications close 14 September, 2020.

Emerging Writers’ Competition

SBS is inviting aspiring writers to share their stories and have their voices heard with the launch of the SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition.

The SBS Emerging Writers’ Competition is searching for the next generation of bold new voices that reflect the diversity of contemporary Australia, providing them with a platform to share their unique experiences and perspectives.

The winner will be awarded $5000 to support the development of their storytelling. A $3000 prize will be awarded for second place, and $1000 each for two honourable mentions. Winners and runners up will be published on the SBS Voices website.

Entries are open from 15 August – 15 September 2020.


The $1 Million American Express Music Backers Fund is here to help Australian music business, artists and fans to keep the music playing – in whatever way possible. Whether you’re making it, mixing it, marketing it or just enjoying the tunes and moving to it, there is something for you.

American Express recognises that everyone is in different stages of recovery and understand that everyone’s wants and needs vary. That’s why they have created a number of ways you can get involved and be supported.

From grants, to rewarding others who you think deserve a bit of thanks (and some cash!), and other initiatives, check out what you’re eligible for below and follow the prompts to find out more or apply. Once your application is in, it’s over to the judging panel!


The Recovery Boost is a $10 million targeted measure announced by the Australian Government in 2020 as part of the Relief and Recovery Fund. It responds to the difficulties experienced by regional artists, arts organisations and communities who have been heavily impacted by COVID-19.

The RAF Relief program (up to $5000) will be open from 1 July 2020, and close 30 September 2020. Applications will be assessed on an ongoing basis.

The RAF Recovery program (up to $30,000) will be open from 1 July 2020, and close 1 November 2020


The renewed Artists’ Benevolent Fund hopes to provide modest but useful one-off financial assistance to Australian visual artists in crisis as a result of fire, flood, storm, serious illness, major accident, declared state or national emergencies, or some other unexpected catastrophic experience.
Funding Available: One-off payment of $2,000.
Important dates: Applications are now open, there is no deadline date for submission.


The Carstairs Prize aims to support socially engaged art projects that embrace participatory and collaborative experiences, bring participants into active dialogue with the artist(s) in order to involve audiences beyond the art community. The prize is intended to contribute to artwork production costs to assist the successful applicant(s) to develop and present new work.
Funding Available: One individual or group will be awarded $3,000 + GST
Important Dates: Applications close 23:59 AEST Sunday 25 October 2020.

National Debt Helpline

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for everyone in Australia (and the world).
This is a guide on steps you can take to look after yourself and your family financially in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It contains information about:

  • Emergency Relief
  • Centrelink support
  • Maintaining your rent or mortgage
  • Payment priorities
  • Making repayment arrangements
  • Accessing superannuation early

If you are in financial difficulty, free support is available at the National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007. You can speak to a financial counsellor to get advice.

Support Act

Support Act are launching an appeal to raise $20m so that we can provide some level of crisis relief to music workers who are facing financial hardship.

Support Act need to raise these funds in order to be in a position to provide the support that is being requested by our community.

Support Act will make an announcement once they are able to do this.

I Lost My Gig

The Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) and the Australian Festival Association (AFA) have joined with industry partners to tally the impact of lost gigs on Australians – and hear your stories. They are working to find ways to support people and businesses who have been affected.

You can leave your details at the following link so you can be connected to funding opportunities and other support.

Arts Law Centre of Australia

The arts sector has been hit hard with cancellations and disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Arts Law has put together answers to some of the most common question’s they havereceived from artists and arts organisations.

Arts Law is a community legal service providing legal advice and support to artists and arts organisations. Where Arts Law may not be equipped to help with certain issues, particularly non-legal ones, they have linked to other services that they recommend you contact.

Theatre Network Australia – 1000 x 1000: Crisis Cash for Artists 

MAV is supporting Theatre Network Australia’s fundraising campaign 1000 x 1000 Crisis Cash for Artists

We know that many artists will not be able to access government support as a result of the short term contract nature of arts gigs. They will not meet the criteria of 12 months employment with one employer. This fund is essential for those at risk of falling through the cracks.

If you are in a position to donate, please consider giving to this campaign.
If you are an independent artist struggling financially, with no access to a financial safety net, please request support and apply to the fund.

Theatre Network Australia (TNA) and Live Performance Australia (LPA)

TNA has joined with Live Performance Australia and other performing arts and music industry bodies to urge the government to fund an urgent package to prevent a complete and permanent industry shutdown, costing thousands of jobs and forcing the closure of performing arts and commercial companies and venues for good.

National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA)

The National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA) provides an Advocacy Toolkit so you can assist in the campaign to get immediate support for artists.

Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA)

The MEAA, along with other organisations in these sectors, is calling for targeted industry support and a national scheme of paid leave for any workers who are self-employed, casual or whose employer cannot provide them with paid leave in the event of a stand down.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance is conducting a survey on the impact of coronavirus on work and income in the media, entertainment and arts industries.

Diversity Arts Australia

Diversity Arts Australia is gathering data to help us advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) creatives affected by cancellations and postponements in the creative industries.

If any artists of colour/CALD artists are experiencing extreme hardship, please contact us for advice at

Most importantly, please take the health and safety of our community seriously, and practise social distancing, and self-isolation if you are unwell to slow the spread of COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19, click here.

MAV is following the advice of federal and state governments on social distancing, by supporting our staff to work from home. As such, the office phone will be unattended for the foreseeable future.
Please stay in contact with us however, by email and mobile phones.
(All MAV staff emails are available here)
We are keen to hear from you, especially if you need additional support.
For any enquiries contact MAV at

Image: Interwoven. Photo by Shane Carey

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