Local businesses, cultural organisations and community groups have been given a lifeline during the Covid-19 pandemic, with cash grants from the City of Sydney totalling $6.75 million.
The City has awarded 455 grants to help businesses survive the economic impacts of the global pandemic and provide support to the most vulnerable in the community.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City created the new grants program with great urgency, to help support the City’s creatives, community sector and small businesses.
“Sadly, the physical distancing measures required to save lives is continuing to hurt the livelihoods of many in our community,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.
“Many workers have lost their income from the closure of cafes, restaurants, venues and gyms, and artists and arts organisations were seriously affected – with many shockingly locked out of federal support.
“In response to the economic challenges of the global pandemic, which has created great insecurity and uncertainty for many local businesses, organisations and artists across our city, we created a number of new grants programs to help businesses pay wages, adapt or reinvent themselves, and create new work.
“While restrictions are now easing, many businesses and artists remain in survival mode and these grants are helping many of them to get back on their feet and move into the recovery stage.
“Our grants program was part of a broader $72.5 million Business, Arts and Creative Support Package to support businesses and the community and creative sectors through coronavirus, which also included rent abatement for tenants in our own buildings, bringing forward appropriate capital works to stimulate employment, and donating $1 million to OzHarvest to meet increased food security needs in our community.”
Dreamtime Southern X is a 100 per cent Aboriginal owned and operated tour business in the City of Sydney area. It runs Aboriginal Tourism Culture experiences and said business was doing great, until the shutdowns were announced.
Business owner Aunty Margret said the cancellations were immediate.
“Business went downhill very fast. It was heartbreaking. I along with my small team were enjoying the fruits of all the years of hard work, hanging in there against all the odds, but given the collapse of the tourism industry due to social distancing impacts, we couldn’t continue.”
Thanks to a $10,000 small business Covid-19 support grant, Dreamtime Southern X will now offer virtual reality interactive educational tours and webinar sessions. These include photos and storytelling focusing on the Dreamtime beginnings of Sydney’s Aboriginal cultural heritage.
For people experiencing disadvantage, struggling financially, or socially isolated in the community, life became harder when the pandemic hit, particularly for people who lost employment. Not for profit organisation BaptistCare HopeStreet was on the frontlines supporting the community when it became clear that affording and accessing food was becoming increasingly difficult.
With their $41,000 grant from the City, a new HopeStreet pilot program will offer food security, social connection and boost the digital skills of 40 households.
“Each household will be provided with meal kits for ten weeks and join online tutorials, receiving tips on topics like nutrition, cooking on a budget, and how to use the tablets, supporting participants to grow their digital and cooking skills,” said community development coordinator at HopeStreet Inner City, Cherry Mawson.
“In the short term, meal kits will ensure participants have reliable access to fresh and healthy food.
“We also hope this program will help participants long after the pandemic is over by increasing digital skills, knowledge and confidence that will enable them to access information online, increase their culinary skills and help them live healthier, independent lives,” Ms Mawson said.
Owner of Potts Point’s Honkas Bar+Eats, Hamilton Kings, felt the impact of the coronavirus immediately.
“A few weeks before the lockdowns, people started to panic and we started to lose our functions and events bookings left right and centre. Then all of sudden we were in full lockdown and the show was over,” Mr Kings said.
“I knew it was going to be tough, but as long as I kept one foot in front of the other, no matter how big the step, I was determined to get to the other side.”
With a City Covid-19 grant, the Honkas Potts Point bar owner is developing an app for Love Local, a new food and drink delivery service that takes a 12 per cent commission for orders, as opposed to the 30 per cent restaurants are charged by some major food delivery services.
Love Local has several Potts Point eateries on board and is delivering around the inner city.
The City offered four grant programs valued at $6.75 million to target and address immediate needs of the community:
· The cultural sector resilience grants, providing immediate financial support to the not-for-profits and sole traders working in the cultural sector who often rely on individual grant rounds and project-based funds to maintain their minimal staff and pay their artists.
· The creative fellowships fund, supporting artists to engage in creative development of works and initiatives driven by the cultural sector, and to purchase materials and equipment.
· Small business grants to support businesses to innovate and adapt.
· Community services grants to help organisations working in the priority areas of food insecurity, digital inclusion and social connection to support our vulnerable residents
The City is set to announce a further 199 grants totalling $2.1 million later this month.
As part of our Covid-19 response measures, the City has also operated a business concierge service to provide advice and support to local businesses and organisations throughout the pandemic about support available from the City of Sydney, as well as directing our community where appropriate to state and federal packages.