COVID-19: What are the state governments doing for the arts sector?

A summary of the various state government funding programs in response to the COVID-19 impact on the arts.

New South Wales

The NSW Government has announced that the arts and culture sector will soon receive $30.1 million through the second stage of the NSW Government’s Rescue and Restart package.

Stage 2 will assist over 160 organisations including more than $24.2 million in funding for 60 organisations across regional NSW. The funding allocation has focused on Create NSW multi-year and annually funded organisations and is capped at $750,000 per organisation.

$2.5 million has been allocated to support sector specific initiatives, including contemporary music, literature and writing, as well as to support a regional residency program for individual artists across a wide range of artforms.

$1.5 million from Stage 1 funding has been allocated to help volunteer, community-based arts and cultural organisations remain operational with one-off grants of up to $5,000.

A new competitive funding round will open in the new year, with $1.75 million available to not-for-profit NSW arts and cultural organisations not otherwise eligible for funding under this package. More information, including guidelines and details on how to apply will be available on the Create NSW website in early 2021.

Create NSW media release, 24 May 2020 

NSW Government media release, 8 November 2020

Other funding programs currently available 

Small Project Grants (Quick Response) support the creation, development and presentation of new work and professional development or promotion for NSW-based professional artists and arts and cultural workers. This quick response grant mechanism offers grants from $500 to $5,000 towards projects. Go to Small Project Grants (Quick Response)

Play the City (Sydney) Arts and Cultural Funding Program Play the City supports individuals, venues and arts organisations to present live performance in the Sydney CBD* in Summer 2020/21. You can apply for up to $10,000 towards a one-off or series of live performances to be held in the CBD of Sydney.

Go to Play the City (Sydney)


The Victorian Government has announced a $17.2 million package, which will enable Victorians to reconnect with cultural experiences while supporting the creation of jobs across the creative and event industries.

Included in the package is $7.9 million to enable state-owned creative agencies to bring their experiences outdoors:

  • Arts Centre Melbourne will transform the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to host the Live at the Bowl summer festival, to run from January to March, featuring more than 40 performances.
  • Museums Victoria will present the Melbourne Museum Summer Plaza series, offering a range of open-air experiences, including performances.
  • Coinciding with the free NGV Triennial, the NGV Garden taking place from December to April will provide relaxed dining and music. NGV Triennial EXTRA festival also returns with free performances, dance and community programs.
  • State Library Victoria, Melbourne Recital Centre, ACMI and Federation Square will activate their outdoor spaces with creative experiences ranging from live music to storytelling. 
  • The Geelong Arts Centre will partner with Deakin University to present a month-long summer season of events under a big top.

Almost $4.3 million will enable 16 Victorian arts festivals and organisations to present summer and autumn programs outdoors, including Midsumma, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Shepparton Arts Festival and Creative Clunes. 

A further $5 million will deliver a new series of live music events across regional and peri-urban communities.

Creative Victoria media release, 9 November 2020

Other funding programs coming up 

RAF Project Grants have three categories: 1. Project and Skills Development Grants– maximum amount $30,000 2. Small Festivals Grants – maximum amount $6,000 3. Regional Arts Fund Fellowship – maximum amount $20,000 Go to RAF Project Grants

RAF Quick Response Grants are intended to assist regional artists, arts organisations and communities to take up professional or skills development or small project opportunities. Up to $2,000 for Individuals, $4,000 for organisations. Go to RAF Quick Response Grants


The Queensland Government has announced the total investment so far of the $42.5 million committed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to support the sector. This includes:

  • Indigenous Art Centre Uplift: Funding of $610,000 to 14 Indigenous Art Centres to support sustained practice and revenue opportunities.
  • First Nations Commissioning Fund: Support for 19 project with funding of $836,781 to deliver uniquely Queensland Indigenous stories, arts and cultural experiences, products and celebrations.
  • First Night Showcase - Bulmba-ja: Funding of $262,422 to support 8 recipients to develop and present new work at Bulmba-ja art centre, Cairns.
  • Indigenous Art Centre Launch: Support 3 IACs with funding of $340,000 over two years.
  • Queensland Arts Showcase Program: Round 1 has funded 15 projects with $642,249 to support vibrant and accessible arts and cultural experiences.

artsQueensland full announcement

Funding programs currently available

Queensland Arts Showcase Program supports vibrant and accessible arts and cultural experiences for Queensland by individuals, organisations or collectives.
Go to Queensland Arts Showcase Program.

Regional Arts Fund Recovery Boost - Renewal will provide up to three years of funding to support projects that have strong partnerships and demonstrated long term outcomes, with sustainable future-positioning focus.
Go to Regional Arts Fund Recovery Boost - Renewal.

South Australia

South Australia’s arts and cultural sector are to receive an additional $10.2 million to create jobs and fast-track recovery from the devastating impacts of COVID-19, bringing the government’s total Arts support package to $20 million. This package has included direct funding to artists and small-to-medium organisations, rent relief, and investment in new events.

This funding has a specific focus on creating employment for professional practicing artists through:

  • collaboration and partnerships: between artists and arts organisations to foster the evolution of arts practice in a COVID-safe environment
  • theatre and festival reopening: by supporting the creation, development and presentation of work in a COVID-safe environment
  • digital innovation: by supporting the development and curation of new digital content, building sector skills and capability, and investing in technology and digital expertise.

Steven Marshall media release, 24 September 2020

The Arts Recovery Fund

The South Australian Budget for 2020-21 includes significant arts investment including $50M towards Adelaide's Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre, and a purpose-built storage facility for the state’s major cultural institutions.

The Australian Government’s Regional Arts Fund will provide $159,770 in support of 10 arts projects across regional South Australia.

Western Australia

Funding programs currently available

Creative Communities COVID-19 Recovery Program is funding for artist-in-residence projects that engage communities and are delivered in partnership with artists and either a local government authority, local school, or community group.
Go to Creative Communities COVID-19 Recovery Program.

Regional Arts Resilience Grants are designed to assist regional artists, arts organisations and communities to sustain creative practices and participate in the regional economy during the immediate period of disruption caused by COVID-19.
Go to Regional Arts Resilience Grants.

Australian Capital Territory

Funding programs currently available

Arts Activities funding supports artists, groups and arts organisations to undertake a broad range of activities including artform-based projects, mentorships, residencies, professional or skills development and opportunities for the community to actively engage in the arts.
Go to Arts Activities.

North Territory

Funding programs currently available

Regional Arts Fund Recovery Boost - Renewal provides up to three years of funding to support projects that have strong partnerships and demonstrated long-term outcomes, with a sustainable future-positioning focus. Go to Regional Arts Fund Recovery Boost - Renewal.


Funding programs currently available

RAF Renewal Grants Program provides up to three years of funding to support artist and organisation projects that have strong partnerships and demonstrated long term outcomes, with sustainable future-positioning focus.
Go to RAF Renewal Grants Program.