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Australian Government announces unlocking of arts rescue funds and venue capacity increases

Australian Government announces unlocking of arts rescue funds and venue capacity increases
November 20, 2020

Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher has today advised of a roadmap for reopening live performance industry, with live venues and events allowed to reach up to 75% capacity in states that have had 14 days with no new locally acquired Coronavirus cases. The Minister also announced that $60 million in much-delayed grants will begin to flow immediately under the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund.

In what has been called the ‘COVID normal’ of the near future, indoor events and seated outdoor events will still be ticketed only, and additional restrictions will still apply to large-scale multi-day outdoor music festivals.

Speaking at the Sydney costume workshop for the musical Hamilton, which is scheduled to open at the Lyric theatre in March, Minister Fletcher revealed than $60 million of the $75 million RISE Fund had been allocated to 115 arts organisations, commenting “the funds will start to fly almost immediately.

“The Office of the Arts within my department is engaging with individual recipients in terms of the grant agreements.”

More than 300 arts organisations had applied for the Federal Government’s emergency rescue package announced in August, with 71% of the total RISE funding will go to the small-to-medium sector, and 21% to regional areas. A total of $34 million will be awarded to not-for-profit organisations.

With states such as Queensland having already moved to 100% capacity in entertainment venues, Fletcher dismissed suggestions the roadmap should have come out weeks ago, noting “what it’s intending to do is to set a consistent framework and clearly it’s always the case that specific decisions are made by state and territory governments.

“What we’ve done as a Commonwealth Government through the National Cabinet is reached an agreed framework.”

Minister Fletcher advised that the joint announcement of the potential easing of social distancing restrictions and the pending release of the RISE funding was to place promoters, festival organisers and companies in a position to “not only know the way forward in terms of the public health requirements, but also (to ensure) getting that support so they can get their shows up and running.”

With just one in three organisations that applied for Rise funding achieving success so far, Minister Fletcher said unsuccessful applicants were welcome to reapply for the remaining $15 million, adding “there will be feedback provided to those who were not successful, they’ll certainly be free to … put in an amended application that takes account of that feedback.”

Agreed to by National Cabinet, the three-step Roadmap for reactivating live performance venues sets the standard for how the sector can operate in a COVIDSafe way, with guidance for the main types of venues, festivals and touring.

In response to COVID-19, Minister Fletcher established a Creative Economy Taskforce and a COVID 19 Arts and Health Advisory Committee, who both worked closely with the Department of Health to develop the document. The Roadmap has also been informed by extensive consultation with industry stakeholders such as the Australia Council, the Live Entertainment Industry Forum and Live Performance Australia.

Jurisdictional health experts have provided input to the Roadmap through the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. Through National Cabinet, all states and territories have agreed to release this roadmap.

All events and venues will need to comply with state and territory restrictions.

As at 10th November, around $558 million in JobKeeper payments have been received by employees working in the Creative and Performing Arts subdivision.

For more information visit www.arts.gov.au/covid-19-update.

Click here to view the Roadmap for reactivating live performance venues.

Images: The musical Hamilton is scheduled to open at Sydney's Lyric theatre in March (top) and Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher (below).

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor of Australasian Leisure Management. Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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