COVID-19: Avenues of Support for Artists and Arts Workers

Artists and arts workers are seeing their work evaporate. Multicultural Arts Victoria recognises that jobs in the industry will be scarce for the immediate future as self-generated income disappears.

Along with our counterparts in the sector we are urging governments to provide urgent support.

In the meantime, here are some ways that may assist you 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

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.

Centrelink Update from 1:30pm, 23 March 2020 
  • Do not go into offices if it can be avoided. Staffing has had to be reduced to accommodate social distancing measures.
  • Use the mGov website. It may go down from time to time due to demand – please keep trying.
  • If you have not been able to get on, they will allow you to register an “intent to claim” that can be backdated on the day.
  • If you do not already have a CRN (customer reference number), you now DO NOT need to go to an office. They will make this available online and over the phone.
  • Call centre hours increase to 8am to 8pm local
  • 5000 staff are being recruited for call centres. Register here as a casual.
  • Keep persevering with your application. They will get backdated to the day you lodge your intent to claim.
City of Melbourne
Grants open for businesses affected by COVID-19

The City of Melbourne has released $5 million in financial support for small to medium sized businesses to invest in online and e-commerce capabilities, take part in training and professional development and undertake capital works.

Hume City Council
COVID-19 Community Grants Program

Hume Residents / Quick Response

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hume City Council is offering one-off grants designed to support not-for-profit organisations/community groups and individuals to continue to maintain social connections.

Applications close 28 August 2020. More information and guidelines can be found here.

Arts Activation Grant 
Grant Amount: Up to $3,000

Funding in this category is for practicing artists in all disciplines – including (but not limited to) painting, sculpture, photography, textiles, drawing, music, theatre, dance, printmaking, ceramics, writing, new or mixed media – who need to adapt the delivery of their arts practice in new ways whilst adhering to social distancing directives.

Other Community Grants;

National Debt Helpline

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is a challenging time for everyone in Australia (and the world).
This is a guide on steps you can take to look after yourself and your family financially in the Covid-19 pandemic.

It contains information about:

  • Emergency Relief
  • Centrelink support
  • Maintaining your rent or mortgage
  • Payment priorities
  • Making repayment arrangements
  • Accessing superannuation early

If you are in financial difficulty, free support is available at the National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007. You can speak to a financial counsellor to get advice.

VMDO Workshops
Resilience and Dealing with Change

The COVID-19 crises has had a significant impact on our jobs, social lives and livelihoods. Now more than ever, it’s important to learn practical techniques for dealing with stress and change that you can apply to your work and personal lives.

This half day intensive workshop is designed for people in the music industry wanting to improve their ability to deal with pressure and change in their environment. You’ll learn practical skills and techniques to build strength and bounce back when you need it most.

Support Act

Support Act are launching an appeal to raise $20m so that we can provide some level of crisis relief to music workers who are facing financial hardship.

Support Act need to raise these funds in order to be in a position to provide the support that is being requested by our community.

Support Act will make an announcement once they are able to do this.

I Lost My Gig

The Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) and the Australian Festival Association (AFA) have joined with industry partners to tally the impact of lost gigs on Australians – and hear your stories. They are working to find ways to support people and businesses who have been affected.

You can leave your details at the following link so you can be connected to funding opportunities and other support.

Arts Law Centre of Australia

The arts sector has been hit hard with cancellations and disruption in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Arts Law has put together answers to some of the most common question’s they havereceived from artists and arts organisations.

Arts Law is a community legal service providing legal advice and support to artists and arts organisations. Where Arts Law may not be equipped to help with certain issues, particularly non-legal ones, they have linked to other services that they recommend you contact.

Theatre Network Australia – 1000 x 1000: Crisis Cash for Artists 

MAV is supporting Theatre Network Australia’s fundraising campaign 1000 x 1000 Crisis Cash for Artists

We know that many artists will not be able to access government support as a result of the short term contract nature of arts gigs. They will not meet the criteria of 12 months employment with one employer. This fund is essential for those at risk of falling through the cracks.

If you are in a position to donate, please consider giving to this campaign.
If you are an independent artist struggling financially, with no access to a financial safety net, please request support and apply to the fund.

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.

National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA)

The National Association of Visual Arts (NAVA) provides an Advocacy Toolkit so you can assist in the campaign to get immediate support for artists.

Media Entertainment Arts Alliance (MEAA)

The MEAA, along with other organisations in these sectors, is calling for targeted industry support and a national scheme of paid leave for any workers who are self-employed, casual or whose employer cannot provide them with paid leave in the event of a stand down.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance is conducting a survey on the impact of coronavirus on work and income in the media, entertainment and arts industries.

Diversity Arts Australia

Diversity Arts Australia is gathering data to help us advocate for culturally and linguistically diverse (CaLD) creatives affected by cancellations and postponements in the creative industries.

If any artists of colour/CALD artists are experiencing extreme hardship, please contact us for advice at

Most importantly, please take the health and safety of our community seriously, and practise social distancing, and self-isolation if you are unwell to slow the spread of COVID-19. For more information about COVID-19, click here.

MAV is following the advice of federal and state governments on social distancing, by supporting our staff to work from home. As such, the office phone will be unattended for the foreseeable future.
Please stay in contact with us however, by email and mobile phones.
(All MAV staff emails are available here)
We are keen to hear from you, especially if you need additional support.
For any enquiries contact MAV at

Image: Interwoven. Photo by Shane Carey

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