The Queensland Arts Minister Leenne Enoch has announced $8 million of funding relief for the Queensland arts sector, to help small to medium arts organisations survive the challenges ahead as a result of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

This support from the Palaszczuk Government will include funding extensions, changes to funding application timeframes, and rent relief for tenants based in Queensland Government Arts infrastructure.

Queensland Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch. Photograph © Benny Doyle

Minister Enoch said these measure were a recognition of the wide-reaching impacts of the current restrictions on mass gatherings, and the flow-on effect that this will have on the ability of arts sector employees to work.

“To provide certainty for the sector, companies that are current recipients of the 2017-2020 Organisations Fund, will be guaranteed a further twelve months’ funding at current levels to December 2021. And in addition, Arts Queensland is also suspending applications for the next four-year funding round, in order to take pressure off organisations to do long-term planning,” said Enoch.

“Arts Queensland will also waive rental payments for tenants based in Queensland Government Arts facilities through to December 2020.”

Enoch said that the measures are designed to “help many small-to-medium arts organisations pay their bills and keep people employed during the current health crisis”.

With over 80,000 Queenslanders working in the creative sector, many of them on a freelance basis, the Palaszczuk Government is also working to find ways to support individual workers through existing programs. Enoch said she will be making announcements in the coming weeks “about a rapid response that supports workers with creative development and digital delivery”.

On Tuesday, March 17, the Federal Minister for Communications Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, met with peak cultural and creative sector bodies to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s cultural and creative businesses and institutions.

“The information I obtained from this roundtable will feed into the whole of Government planning on COVID-19 responses. Similar consultations are being conducted by my Ministerial colleagues across a range of sectors,” said Minister Fletcher.

Enoch said she was looking forward to seeing the outcomes of discussions with the Federal Arts Minister, and other state and territory Arts Ministers. “It’s important that the Federal Government hears these concerns from the Arts sector. We will continue to work with the sector to support organisations and arts workers to emerge from this public health crisis with strength and confidence.”