The City of Sydney has announced the recipients of its $6.75 million Covid-19 Relief Grants Program, part of the City of Sydney’s broader $72.5 million Business, Arts and Creative Support Package. Of the 455 Covid-19 Relief Grants awarded, more than 100 organisations will receive funding through Cultural Sector Resilience Grants.

Hayes Theatre Co is one of the organisations to receive funding through the City of Sydney’s Cultural Sector Resilience Grants. Photograph © Phil Erbacher

Funded organisations include Accessible Arts, the Australian Haydn Ensemble, the Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra, Australian Theatre for Young People, Darlinghurst Theatre Company, Ensemble Offspring, Gondwana Choirs, Griffin Theatre Company, Hayes Theatre Co, Kaldor Public Art Projects, Moogahlin Performing Arts, Monkey Baa Theatre, Pinchgut Opera, Shaun Parker Dance Co, Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, Sydney Youth Orchestras, Synergy & TaikOz and many more.

“The COVID situation has been for us, as it continues to be for arts organisations all over the world, challenging to say the least,” Australian Haydn Ensemble Artistic Director Skye McIntosh tells Limelight. “So much work goes into preparing the programs and tours each year, especially with a small team, and to have to cancel much of that is just heartbreaking. The City of Sydney grant funding is helping us to focus our energy forwards and create a suite of new digital initiatives. This includes a series of live-streamed performances in collaboration with the Melbourne Digital Concert Hall over the coming months as well as a separate series of intimate mini-concerts featuring lesser-known 18th-century works and composers. The funding will also help to facilitate several digital education projects as part of our AHA! Education program. I am grateful to be able to provide employment for our wonderful musicians during this time.”

Hayes Theatre Co’s General Manager Will Harvey notes that in addition to the Grant, the City of Sydney has waived the company’s rent for six months. “The restrictions put in place earlier this year forced the cancellation of two Hayes produced musicals,” he says. “Support from the City of Sydney helped us meet our obligations to contracted artists at a particularly challenging time for the company.”

“Support from the City of Sydney is enabling us to continue to develop online programs through this school term,” says ATYP Artistic Director Fraser Corfield. “While the social distancing restrictions are lifting, ATYP has discovered the online workshops and masterclasses have provided a level of accessibility for many young people that was not on offer before. We can see that there will be a need for online opportunities for young people that will forever change the way our company operates.”

“Early on, we knew we wanted to pay our artists and arts workers fees for cancelled performances wherever possible, so long as we could ensure the viability of the company,” says Erin Helyard, Artistic Director of Pinchgut Opera. “This grant has provided us with the ability to honour our promise to our artists and focus our philanthropic revenue and reserves on ensuring Pinchgut’s survival and finding new ways to connect with our audience through digital content.”

Projects for organisations including Griffin Theatre, National Association for the Visual Arts, Sydney Dance Company and Outhouse Theatre Co are among those supported through Creative Fellowships Fund grants.

Vocalist, composer and writer Sonya Holowell has received two such grants. “The pandemic has dried up most of my performances that had been planned for this year, and has left next year hanging in the balance too (as we all are),” Holowell says. “But it has also provided an opportunity to reassess the direction of my practice, leading me to actively create space for the most resonant, pressing work I want to pursue. It means a lot that two of these projects: ADSR Zine (an online arts publication co-run with James Hazel and Elia Bosshard) and Danger/Dancer (a collaboration with James Hazel) have been similarly seen as such by the City of Sydney. Many artists will be benefitted by this support, which ensures the continuation of rigorous arts discourse which seeks to confront a variety of limiting social structures, within and surrounding ‘the arts’.”

Limelight has also received support from the City of Sydney in the form of a Small Business Grant, as has One Eyed Man Productions, which received support for its Every Musical Ever podcast hosted by Richard Carroll.