ACT Government COVID-19 support for the local arts sector

In addition to the over $10 million provided to the sector in annual arts funding, the ACT Government has committed more than $6 million in economic stimulus to support Canberra’s creatives through the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a series of grants and funding opportunities to assist the ACT’s creative arts industry during these difficult times.

HOMEFRONT - funding for Canberra artists

COVID-19 Organisational Emergency Support Funding

Creative Recovery and Resilience Program

Cultural Facilities Corporation funding

Arts infrastructure upgrades

Rent relief

Funding for street artist

New digital initiatives

HOMEFRONT - funding for Canberra artists

As part of a whole of Government response to the impacts of COVID-19, the HOMEFRONT funding round was developed to support individual Canberra-based artists in response to the impact of COVID-19 on the arts sector. Over 370 applications were received with total funding of $503,586 and funding of up to $10,000 per artist was provided to the 66 successful recipients in May 2020. An additional allocation of funding to this round was announced in August 2020, with 59 artists subsequently supported for total funding of $449,425.

This funding will support activities such as research and development, making of new works or sharing of works via online platforms, and artists fees and living expenses to undertake arts activities.

Visit the Current Funding Recipients page to see the list of successful applicants.

We received an unprecedented number of applications to the HOMEFRONT round. The quality was very high and there remains many unsuccessful applications. These applicants are encouraged to consider the Arts Activities Funding rounds for their projects and are welcome to contact us to discuss options.

COVID-19 Organisational Emergency Support Funding

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on ACT arts organisations, resulting in a sustained period of lost revenue and opportunities. Acknowledging that the arts are going to play an important role in our community’s recovery, the ACT Government has invested $1.07 million in Canberra arts organisations that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible arts organisations (currently funded Key Arts and Program organisations) were invited to submit proposals for support by demonstrating their financial need this calendar year. Submissions were reviewed based on support already received through the Australian Government (if any), lost revenue and the desired outcome of keeping Canberrans employed and our arts sector viable. A list of the organisations receiving this support can be found on our Current Funding Recipients page

Creative Recovery and Resilience Program

In August 2020, the ACT Government announced that $375,000 has been provided towards the new Creative Recovery and Resilience program, which has been designed to focus on employment and economic stimulus for the creative sector. The Creative Recovery and Resilience program was developed utilising feedback from artists across a range of mechanisms including through conversations with artists, listening at the Canberra Arts Action Group meetings, engaging with arts organisations and in collaboration with the Minister’s Creative Council and the results of the Council's survey conducted with the arts community.

The initiatives, to be implemented over the next six months include:

  • opportunities for a new take on the artist in residency;
  • commissioning artists to use the city as a muse;
  • appointing an ACT Government artist;
  • amplifying the creative sector through showcasing Canberra artists and demonstrating the value of the arts to the community; and
  • the start of a creative recovery and resilience sector forum to provide ongoing opportunities to connect, share skills and knowledge, and collaborate.

A sector working group will be formed to provide input into the further development of these programs. Information about the sector working group and these initiatives will be available in coming weeks and will be distributed through the artsACT e-newsletter.

Cultural Facilities Corporation funding

The ACT Government has provided an additional $2.5 million of funding for the Cultural Facilities Corporation External Link to continue to deliver cultural services to the Canberra community and continue with the ongoing development of future arts and cultural events.

Arts infrastructure upgrades

A range of arts facilities across Canberra will also receive minor upgrades and maintenance works as part of the Government’s Fast-track infrastructure program External Link. The program is helping deliver more jobs to Canberrans and supporting local business during COVID-19.

More than 50 Canberrans from seven local businesses have already been engaged to deliver projects including:

Rent relief

Support of $359,265 was provided in funding to the head-licensees of arts facilities to enable the waiving of fees for sub-licensees for six months. This funding has supported up to 65 smaller arts organisations and individual artists.

The ACT Government will also not charge any rent, for a six-month period from 1 April 2020, to community groups occupying ACT Government owned properties. This includes ACT Government owned arts facilities.

Funding for street artists

The Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate has allocated approximately $500,000 for Canberra street artists to refresh and reinvigorate parts of the city via commissioning and Creative Endeavour Grants External Link

A range of arts facilities across Canberra will also receive minor upgrades and maintenance works as part of the Government’s fast-track infrastructure program. The program is helping deliver more jobs to Canberrans and supporting local business during COVID-19

New digital initiatives

In addition, the ACT Government has also supported the local arts sector and engaged audiences by developing new digital initiatives, such as the highly successful CTC@Home program External Link by the Canberra Theatre Centre, as well as the Where You Are Festival External Link and RISE Canberra calendar External Link, delivered by Events ACT.

Which artsACT programs have been affected by COVID-19?

Canberra Wellington Indigenous Artist Exchange

In response to the global pandemic of COVID-19, the ACT Government and Wellington City Council have decided to postpone the Canberra Wellington Indigenous Artist Exchange (date to be determined). Although this is disappointing, both the ACT Government and Wellington City Council remain committed to the Exchange.

Arts Activities Funding

artsACT is progressing assessments of the 2020 Round 2 Arts Activities funding that recently closed. There may be a need for us to speak to applicants regarding activities in the changing environment and if so, we will contact you. If you have any updates for an application impacted by COVID-19, please email us at

If you are a current funding recipient and COVID-19 has impacted your project, artsACT has developed a flow chart and a table to help you determine what you should do next:

Which artsACT-owned arts facilities are open?

As a result of the easing of restrictions outlined in Canberra's Recovery Plan External Link, some artsACT-owned  facilities have re-opened in line with the Roadmap. Please consult the website of each facility for information on activities being undertaken and opening hours.

More information and support

The ACT Government's COVID-19 website – External Link – is the single point of truth for everything you need to know about COVID-19 in the Canberra region. The website is updated regularly as information evolves and has a subscription feature for you to receive regular email updates on COVID-19.

A series of Frequently Asked Questions about arts and cultural activities External Link are also available on the website.

The situation is changing every day. You can keep up to date by visiting the ACT Health website External Link and social media channels and the Australian Government website External Link

There is also some information that may be useful to local artists and arts organisations about support from the Office for the Arts External Link and the Australia Council for the Arts External Link

If you're struggling with your mental health and need immediate support you can phone Beyond Blue External Link any time on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline External Link on 13 11 14. The Support Act Wellbeing Helpline External Link is a free, confidential counselling service open to all artists and arts workers - 1800 959 500.