Big arts rescue packages and reform to NSW’s live music scene

Sidney Myer Music Bowl – City of Melbourne

Two large spending initiatives totalling $47.3 million have been announced by the Victorian and NSW governments in a major push to revive the arts sectors in those states.

The Victorian Government has launched a summer arts recovery plan worth $17.2 million that will be headlined by a new COVID-safe festival called Live at the Bowl. To run from January to March at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, it will consist of upwards of 40 live music performances, the details of which will be known in early December.

Other outdoor public performances and events will take place across Melbourne at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne Museum, State Library Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre and Federation Square. The initiative is expected to create close to 2,000 job opportunities to boost the state’s live music industry following 112 days of lockdown.

NSW’s arts and culture sector is also set to gain this summer under a $30.1 million arts recovery package that the State Government says will provide incentives for employment of artists and stimulate new work. Called Rescue and Restart, it will provide cash injections to 160 companies to assist in their programs.

Organisations funded under Create NSW that “have the greatest capacity to stimulate the not for profit arts and cultural sector” will be prioritised. Other NSW arts and cultural organisations can apply for funding under the package, while one-off grants of up to $5,000 will be available for smaller volunteer and community-based arts organisations in an effort to help them stay operational. A pool of $2.5 million will be set aside for specific initiatives in contemporary music, literature, writing and a residency program.

Meanwhile, long overdue reforms to liquor licensing, planning and local government legislation have finally been enacted by the NSW Parliament to support of live music in that State. The changes announced will allow easier licensing for venues and remove a whole range of barriers that have strangled Sydney’s live music scene in particular.

APRA AMCOS, which has campaigned long and hard to free up regulations, has hailed the changes as the biggest “in a generation”.

“These changes will also see the creation of special entertainment precincts to encourage live music and cultural activity in city centres and regions throughout NSW. From the City of Sydney to Local Governments across metropolitan and regional NSW, Councils will be able unlock the potential of local economic areas,” said Dean Ormston, CEO APRA AMCOS.

“All these changes will help support small businesses and drive an economic recovery across the state, and importantly, getting musicians back to work.”

Hospitality venues, events and musical activities in NSW will still have to operate according to COVID Safe restrictions, which currently means maintaining the four square metre rule for each person on the premises.

As a tough year draws to a close, music organisations and individual musicians can only look towards 2021 with cautious hope that things will improve. We finish here with a quick checklist of major, nationally administered grant and funding opportunities that lie ahead. For other grants, look as always to State governments, city councils, local councils and so on.

The Australia Council’s Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups provides grants of between $10,000 and $50,000 for the arts sector and wider public. Closing date for the next round is 2 March. Applications for Arts Projects for Organisations grants for $20,000 to $100,000 also close on 2 March.

The Australia Council’s Contemporary Music Touring Program provides grants between $5,000 and $50,000 to support performances of original contemporary music. The next closing date is 2 March.

Playing Australia, the Australia Council’s Regional Performing Arts Touring program, supports performances to regional and remote communities. Closing date for applications is again 2 March.

Applications for The Dreaming Award, established by the Australia Council to support young First Nations artist create work through mentoring and partnerships, need to be submitted by 7 December.

Applications for The Marten Bequest Scholarships, another Australia Council program that assists musicians aged up to 35 with their interstate and/or overseas travel needs, close on 2 February.

The Performers’ Trust Foundation (Phonographic Performance Company of Australia) offers funds to support a number of specific opportunities such as performances in hospitals or homes for the aged. It also offers scholarships in musical and theatrical education. Applications are considered every three months.

The Community Broadcasting Foundation has a number of Quick Response grants and loans that provide support for community media organisations experiencing emergencies. There are no closing dates.

Support Act is able to assist anytime with Crisis Relief Grants for musicians, crews and music workers who are affected by COVID-19.

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