The Australian government has committed A$27m in targeted funding to support regional arts, First Nations arts and music charity Support Act during the Covid-19 crisis, which has heavily impacted the arts in the country.

Some A$10m will be provided to industry charity Support Act to provide financial support and counselling to artists and crew. The same amount will be directed through the regional arts fund to support regional artists and organisations to develop new work and adapt to the changing circumstances.

Additional funding of $7m has been allocated under the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support programme, as many First Nations communities have seen art centres close their doors.

The Australia Council for the Arts welcomed the funding to “some of the most vulnerable areas of arts”.

Arts Council chief executive Adrian Collette said: “Ours is a highly complex and diverse sector that provides enormous value – economic, social and cultural – to all Australians. We acknowledge and welcome this commitment, in addition to the potential assistance of whole of government programs such as the JobKeeper and JobSeeker legislation. These new measures mark the first step towards addressing some of the critical issues currently being faced by the creative sector. However, there remain significant gaps that need to be urgently addressed.

“We continue to work closely with the Office for the Arts and our Minister to provide advice and information to assist the Government’s response to this urgent crisis.”

Live Performance Australia (LPA) also welcomed the measures, but said the industry requires “much, much more in the form of direct assistance” in order to survive after the pandemic.

LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, said: “Governments still haven’t come to grips with the scale of the devastation that has been wreaked across our world class $4 billion live performance industry. We were the first impacted and will be the last to come out. We stand ready to work with government now and during the recovery.

“Additional targeted measures are urgently required and a ‘Bounce back’ plan is going to be vital. Much more must be done, and time is running out.”

Last month, LPA said the arts and live industry in Australia needs A$850m in targeted support measures in order to survive.

Since then, the Arts Council announced its four-year funding for the sector, with 144 arts organisations to receive a share of A$31.7m per annum between 2021-24 following an application process completed before the Covid-19 outbreak. The Council has also announced it is directing approximately A$5m to a Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief through grants to the Australian arts sector.

However, the LPA said the absence of any additional funding from government for 2021-24 and decision to extend some groups’ grants by an extra year has had the knock-on effect of other organisations seeing their grants cut or removed entirely.

Image: Aron Mayo