COVID-19: Avenues of Support for Community Organisations

The outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) is causing economic disruption in many sectors including community and arts organisations.

If your business is being affected, there are resources that can help.

Here are some ways that may assist organisations 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).

Artsfront are doing a zoom meeting every week day for 30 minutes at 12pm. More info here.

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
Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund

This program targets funding towards sector organisations who are seeking to restart, re-imagine or create new activities, providing finance to assist presentation of new or re-shaped cultural and creative activities and events to enhance community wellbeing and access to cultural experiences across Australia, including in outer metropolitan, regional and remote areas.

Opens 31 August, closes May 2021 or when all funds are expended, which will happen fast, so to act quickly!

Business Victoria

Call the Business Victoria coronavirus hotline on 13 22 15 to find out about:

  • the latest information on the public health measures and how these affect your business
  • how to access the financial support available through the national and state stimulus packages – including the Victorian Government’s $500 million Business Support Fund to support the state’s hardest hit sectors, including arts and entertainment and the Federal Government’s JobKeeper Payment which will provide funding to affected businesses to continue paying employees
  • other support services, like accessing business, legal and IT advice and mentoring to help with things like developing business continuity and recovery plans.

Business Victoria also has advice, updates and support on their website to help your workplace plan and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).

JobKeeper Payments

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.

Victorian Government

The Victorian Government has launched the $500 million Business Support Fund to support small businesses in the sectors hit hardest by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic so they can survive and keep people in work.

The Fund is part of the Victorian Government’s $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package.

Eligible businesses can apply for a one-off $10,000 grant which can be used towards costs such as utilities, rent and salaries, and activities to support business continuity planning.


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

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 VicArts Grants program invests in the creative endeavours and professional practice of Victoria’s artists and smaller arts companies. It provides one-off support for discrete projects and programs that will develop and bring dynamism to Victoria’s arts sector.

The program is open to new ideas, new modes of practice and new approaches to delivery of the arts that will build on Victoria’s position as a cultural leader.

Applications will be accepted for requests between $5,000 and $60,000.

Solo projects (i.e. one artist working alone) are eligible to apply for up to $20,000.

Submission deadline extended to 5pm, 3 September 2020.

City of Darebin
Cultural Infrastructure GRANTS

The Cultural Infrastructure Grants program is open to creative and cultural businesses and organisations in the City of Darebin (see the selection criteria in the guidelines).

Grants of up to $5,000 for co-working spaces, studios, collectives and sole traders who live or work in Darebin and operate in the creative and cultural sectors, and organisations and companies with less than 10 full time or equivalent staff.COVID-19.

Applications close 21 September 2020.

Gordon Darling Foundation
Visual Arts GRANTS

The Gordon Darling Foundation is a perpetual public charitable trust, established in 1991 to “support Australia-wide, activities of importance in the Visual Arts.”

It will give priority to exhibitions of Australian, Asian, Pacific or other international art, or those of significant local importance.

The Foundation can only provide funding to Public Institutions in Australia. Applicant organisations must have Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.

Individuals wishing to apply for funding for projects must partner with a Public Institution which then takes on responsibility for the project.

Submission deadline extended to 23 September 2020.

City of Melbourne
Grants open for creatives affected by COVID-19

The City of Melbourne has released $2 million in grants for artists and creative organisations impacted by the COVID-19 virus to assist them during this challenging time.

The grants are available to develop new work, or for digital presentation of artistic works and performances and to provide support during the time when restrictions are in place because of COVID-19.

Small Business Grants

Transformation grants of up to $5000 are now available for small businesses impacted by COVID-19 and located in the CBD (3000), Southbank (3006), Docklands (3008) and World Trade Centre (3005) postcodes. The Small business transformation grants are designed to support ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses impacted by decreased foot-traffic, enabling them to respond to challenging new circumstances and contribute to the vibrancy of the Melbourne CBD.

Applications close 13 September 2020

Creative Victoria
Creative Activation Fund

Creative Activation Fund seeks to support the development and delivery of creative projects that can increase visitation and have strong potential to become cultural tourist attractions.

Creative Activation projects that can be supported include, but are not limited to, public art that responds to the natural landscape, creative interventions that breathe new life into buildings, creative reimagining of silos or unused sites, large-scale murals or sculptures as well as digital activation that could bring sites to life using cutting edge technology through VR or AR.

Applications will be accepted for requests between $40,000 and $300,000.

Applications open: 20 August 2020, please apply using the Creative Victoria Grants Portal
Applications close: 5pm, 24 September 2020

For activity commencing after 1 January 2021.

Australia Council for the Arts

The Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) in partnership with the Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA) and the Australia Council for the Arts will deliver a grant partnership, the ARIA-PPCA-Australia Council First Nations Sound Recording Partnership.

This partnership will support five First Nations Australian artists or groups to create new sound recordings. The initiative is designed to provide an opportunity for First Nations artists to create sound recordings, and access advice and managerial support to grow their audience.

There are five grants of $18,500 (ex GST) each available. This is a once-off initiative offered in 2020.

Applications close: 3pm, 20 October 2020

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.

Image credit: Fire Monkey. Photo by Andy Miller.

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