Flood emergency for visual arts

Information on financial and mental health support, NAVA’s emergency response, recovery resources, and how you can help flood affected artists and arts workers.

Image: Lismore CBD public artwork by Holly Ahern and Eden Crawford-Harriman. Photo by Brendan Beirne.

[Image description: Photo of a wet and muddy shopping strip in Lismore after flooding. Two potted trees lay sideways in front of a tall sculpture of two pink arms and hands with green spots holding up a bright red heart with words 'You are here' etched on the front.]

NAVA is deeply dismayed by the overwhelming flood emergency that continues to unfold in Queensland and New South Wales. The ramifications of the extreme weather events for the visual arts and craft sector are deep and far reaching, from reduced income and mental wellbeing to lost and damaged infrastructure, collections, works and studios. We acknowledge the anxiety, fatigue and unknowing that our friends and colleagues are living through and we are here to support you in the rebuilding process where possible.

This article covers what we know about available financial and mental health support, NAVA’s emergency response, recovery resources, and how you can help flood affected artists and arts workers.

Arts sector hit hard

Many of the eastern state’s galleries and arts organisations’ premises were inundated, causing irreparable damage to infrastructure, equipment, collections, and exhibits. In Brisbane, damage to arts organisations is widespread, causing many galleries and art spaces including Queensland Arts Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) and Metro Arts to temporarily close. NSW’s Arts Northern Rivers, the region’s peak body found untold damages to infrastructure and buildings counting into the tens of millions. The Guardian Australia reported fears Lismore art gallery’s entire collection was lost

Given the high number of visual artists living in affected areas, the impact on individual creatives will also be significant. NAVA Members in Lismore are reporting distressing stories of losing studio equipment, tools and materials that they require to make, sell and teach, to flooding. For many, this is equivalent to several years worth of work and income vanishing overnight.

The sector is yet to determine the total losses to creative and local communities as the scale of the flood emergency continues to unravel. It will take months, or even years, to repair and replace premises and equipment, salvage water damaged collections, and recover lost income. Many in the arts simply cannot afford flood insurance which can cost a minimum of $30,000 per year. Even for those that are insured, they are facing substantial financial and cultural losses.

The Australian visual arts sector is once again in dire need of assistance to repair, rebuild and move forward. NAVA wrote to the Qld and NSW Premiers calling for critical financial support for flood-affected visual artists, arts workers and organisations through the Artists’ Benevolent Fund and the state based peak bodies Museum & Galleries Queensland and Museum & Galleries of NSW respectively.

NAVA reopened applications for the Artists’ Benevolent Fund late last week to Australian visual artists and craft practitioners in crisis. Funds will be distributed based on guidelines determined with guidance from the Artists’ Benevolent Fund’s original trustees and will be assessed by a panel nominated by NAVA. Applications will close 11.59pm, 10 April 2022, with an expected turnaround of two weeks.

The Fund is possible only with the kindness of our supporters. Please consider helping artists in need with an urgent donation, however small – and please share the call with your friends and colleagues far and wide.

Available financial support

Australian Government

A Disaster Recovery Payment through Services Australia of $1,000 for adults and $400 for children is available for those impacted by the floods, with 26 localities across Queensland and NSW becoming eligible to access the payment from Tuesday.

A Disaster Recovery Allowance is a separate payment for up to 13 weeks to assist employees, small businesses and farmers who have lost income will also be provided to the 26 localities. It is equivalent to the JobSeeker Payment or Youth Allowance, depending on your circumstances. This allowance is taxable and subject to eligibility.

Qld Government

Emergency Hardship Assistance grants of $180 per person to a maximum of $900 for a family of five or more are now available to flood-affected suburbs in 11 Queensland local government areas. Check the Queensland government website to confirm whether your suburb is included.

The Personal Hardship Assistance Scheme also offers multiple grants for eligible residents including Essential Services Hardship Assistance, Essential Household Contents, Structural Assistance, and Essential Services Safety and Reconnection.

There are multiple grants for small businesses and and non-profit organisations including Extraordinary Disaster Recovery, Disaster Assistance Loans.

The Gambling Community Benefit Fund will open a Disaster Recovery Round on 16 May 2022 to help local community groups recover from the recent flooding events.

Commbank is offering Flood Relief Grants of up to $10,000 to not-for-profit and community organisations directly impacted by the floods or directly supporting relief, recovery and resilience efforts.

NAB is providing hardship support for customers and small businesses experiencing financial stress.

Other Queensland Government support includes Transport and motoring assistance concessions, Housing and accommodation support, Legal advice for flood-affected Queenslanders

Visit the Regional Community Support Services section of the Community Recovery website for a range of local and general community support services available to individuals and families after a disaster.

NSW Government

The Disaster Relief Grant administered by Resilience NSW Financial assistance to eligible individuals and families whose homes have been damaged by a natural disaster.

A Storm and Flood Disaster Recovery Small Business Grant of up to $50,000 for small businesses or not-for-profit organisations to help pay for the costs of clean-up and reinstatement of a small business or not-for-profit organisation’s operations.

The Small Business Northern Flood Grant is offering a one-off payment of $10,000 to eligible small businesses and not for profits which were impacted by the floods, including those that suffered economically. 

Disaster Assistance has been extended following severe flooding in NSW. Primary producers and small businesses can apply for a low-interest loan of up to $130,000, and non-profit organisations can apply for a low-interest loan of up to $25, 000. 

Commbank is offering Flood Relief Grants of up to $10,000 to not-for-profit and community organisations directly impacted by the floods or directly supporting relief, recovery and resilience efforts.

NAB is providing hardship support for customers and small businesses experiencing financial stress.

NAVA is concerned that many visual artists will be ineligible to apply for lost income support through the Disaster Recovery Allowance despite having lost work and opportunities to seek work as they focus on repairing their homes and studios. Most artists do not generate regular incomes so being able to demonstrate financial loss or downturn can be difficult. 

Are you having difficulty accessing relief payments? We want to hear your story. Please email leya@visualarts.net.au to help us better understand and advocate for you.

Mental health support

At this difficult time, please know that support is near:

How to help

Artists’ Benevolent Fund

We are urgently calling for donations to the Artists’ Benevolent Fund so that flood affected artists can be offered some assistance. The National Association for the Visual Arts is a tax-deductible fund listed on the Australian Government's Register of Cultural Organisations. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax-deductible. Donate via PayPal.

Koori Mail flood relief for Bundjalung rural and isolated communities

The Koori Mail has organised a Go Fund Me Page for donations that will be used to supply temporary accommodation, medical supplies, food vouchers, access to clean drinking water and more. Donate now.

Arts Northern Rivers Flood Recovery Support

Arts Northern Rivers has launched a crowdfunding campaign seeking support to assist in the recovery of untold losses: galleries losing entire collections, studios, equipment, and artworks in ruin, and livelihoods in freefall. Donate now.

Museums & Galleries of NSW

Support small to medium galleries, museums and Aboriginal cultural centres in NSW. Donations over $2 are tax deductible. Donate now.

Museums & Galleries Queensland

M&G QLD is calling for donations to directly assist galleries with disaster and pandemic recovery, including clean-up efforts, conservation materials and services, staff and volunteer training and well-being programs. Donations of $2.00 or more are tax-deductible. Donate now.


Disaster Preparedness Guide, NAVA

After a Flood, and other resources for dealing with water-damaged materials, Australian Institute for Conservation of Cultural Material (AICCM)

Disaster planning and response, Museums & Galleries Queensland

Wellbeing Guide for Individuals and Teams, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)