Limelight is delighted to announce that it has received a Small Business Grant from the City of Sydney through its COVID-19 Relief Grants program.

Limelight will use the grant in three ways: firstly to expand its coverage of Sydney arts companies as they gradually return to live performance, secondly to increase the number of reviews of live performances by employing specialist freelance reviewers over a six-month period, and thirdly to develop an events calendar for the Limelight website.

The grant is one of 455 awarded by the City of Sydney to help businesses survive the economic impacts of the global pandemic and provide support to the most vulnerable in the community.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City created the new grants program with great urgency, to help support the City’s creatives, community sector and small businesses.

“Sadly, the physical distancing measures required to save lives is continuing to hurt the livelihoods of many in our community,” said the Lord Mayor.

“Many workers have lost their income from the closure of cafes, restaurants, venues and gyms, and artists and arts organisations were seriously affected – with many shockingly locked out of federal support.

“In response to the economic challenges of the global pandemic, which has created great insecurity and uncertainty for many local businesses, organisations and artists across our city, we created a number of new grants programs to help businesses pay wages, adapt or reinvent themselves, and create new work.

“While restrictions are now easing, many businesses and artists remain in survival mode and these grants are helping many of them to get back on their feet and move into the recovery stage.”

The City of Sydney offered four grant programs valued at $6.75 million: cultural sector resilience grants providing immediate financial support to the not-for-profits and sole traders; creative fellowships supporting artists to engaged in the creative development of works and initiatives; small business grants to support businesses to innovate and adapt; and community services grants to help organisations working in the priority areas of food security, digital inclusion and social connection to support vulnerable residents.

The grants program is part of a broader $72.5 million Business, Arts and Creative Support Package to help businesses, the community and creative sectors survive the COVID-19 crisis.

Limelight is keenly aware that it could take considerable time for the arts to return to any semblance of normality following the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the shuttering of performance venues around the world.

Arts organisations will have numerous health and safety issues to address as they return to live performance, as well as programming choices to consider. They will also have decisions to make around their use of digital platforms, which have developed rapidly during the COVID-19 lockdown. Crucially, they will need to find ways to encourage audiences to return to live venues. Recent research showed that while 67 per cent of the people surveyed will return to live performance when the risk of transmission is minimal, 11 per cent won’t consider returning until there is a coronavirus vaccine or cure.

With the City of Sydney funding, Limelight will run a series of interviews in which we will talk to artistic directors, programming teams, artists and production managers of Sydney’s orchestras, music ensembles, and opera, theatre and dance companies, to discuss the ways they are addressing the issues involved, and to promote live performances as venues reopen. We will also commission specialist writers to discuss the health aspects of performing safely.

Normally, most of Limelight’s Sydney reviews are written by our small editorial team. With the City of Sydney grant, we will scale up our reviewing team by hiring freelance reviewers so we can cover more concerts and performances. Finally, the funding will allow us to commission developers to help us deliver an arts online calendar to list live performances.

This three-part Sydney Live project will commence in August 2020 and end in March 2021.