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A message from Regional Arts NSW CEO, Elizabeth Rogers regarding Covid-19

In the current situation I’m writing to advise you of the new working arrangements for RANSW and changes across the broader sector. Our primary goal is to ensure our services continue as smoothly as possible while ensuring the health and well-being of our team.

The RANSW office at The Rocks is now closed until further notice and all staff are now working remotely and practising social distancing. We have updated our website with current staff working days and contact numbers which now are available here.

All regional travel, until the end of May, has been cancelled and face to face meetings have been rescheduled to be held by teleconference. This will be reviewed as this crisis develops and we will be following all advice from the NSW Government and Chief Medical Officer.

Most of the Regional Arts Development Organisations (RADOs) in the network have also changed their working conditions and current contacts and working hours are now available here. Click on your local RADO to be directed to their contact lists. They are your first point of call for arts and cultural matters in your region.

We are fully aware of the huge impact this has had across the broader arts sector with theatres, festivals, art galleries, museums and other arts events being cancelled at short notice and the implications on incomes of artists, arts workers, front of house, back stage and production teams. This has been particularly devastating for our broader regional communities who were savaged by the summer bushfires and were hoping that events scheduled over the Easter holiday break would bring some recovery to these communities. We are updating our Festivals page on the website as we are informed of cancellations or postponements. Keep up to date here.

RANSW has been gathering information from the regional arts network to feed into the weekly national meetings with the Federal Government and working with Create NSW and the Office of the Arts regarding changes and variations that will be required for those currently delivering projects funded by CASP or RAF that have been impacted by the restrictions required to reduce the impact of this pandemic.

Those with grants from Create NSW, the Arts Funding Team can assist with your individual concerns and provide support to vary your funding agreement.  This may include:

Removing requirements to meet audience KPI’s
Varying the purpose and outcomes of funding
Extending timelines for projects
Allowing grants to be re-purposed to pay essential bills such as rent, wages or utilities
Delay reporting requirements such as acquittals.
The Federal Minister for the Arts has announced that the Australia Council and the Office for the Arts have been given discretion under Commonwealth Grant Rules to provide reporting and other grant condition relief to organisations with existing Australian Government funding arrangements. These include:

Removing requirements on meeting audience KPI’s
Bringing forward payments
Delaying or removing reporting requirements
Varying the purposes and outcomes of funding
Extending timelines for projects
Allowing organisations to use money provided for a deliverable to be re-purposed to pay essential bills such as wages, rent or utilities.
Please contact our Manager, Grants and Projects, Lexie Reeves for specific information about variations to your existing RAF and CASP grants.

At this stage we expect applications for RAF 2021 projects to open as usual in late June when the new guidelines are announced. We also expect to have information about CASP projects for 2021 in early July.

The Australia Council has announced the suspension of a number of its initiatives that you might have been thinking of applying for, including the following grants:

Career Development Grants for Individuals and Groups, closing date 2 June
Arts Projects for Individuals and Groups, closing date 2 June
Australia Council Fellowships, closing date 2 June
Arts Projects – Organisations, closing date 2 June
Playing Australia: Regional Performing Arts Touring Fund – closing date 2 June
Contemporary Music Touring Program (CMTP) – closing date 2 June.
There are a number of industry surveys circulating that are feeding into government responses for assistance to the arts sector. Two of the most relevant are from NAVA and I Lost My Gig. Please take the few minutes to complete whichever is relevant to you, as the government is developing its responses from this data.

There are a number of assistance packages announced by the government to support those who have lost their jobs or income. Below is a summary of advice from the Australia Council:

The Government has temporarily waived the asset test and waiting periods for the Jobseeker allowance, while a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement will be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight to both existing and new recipients. This effectively doubles the current JobSeeker allowance.

Small and medium sized arts organisations such as theatre companies, Indigenous art centres, small venues and many others may be able to draw on business support measures announced on 23 March 2020.

The Government is providing payments of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not for-profits (including charities) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. These payments will provide cash flow support to help eligible businesses and not-for-profits keep operating and retain staff. This includes creative and cultural businesses and not-for-profits.

A loan guarantee scheme will also support small to medium-sized businesses. There are no charges for accessing the scheme, and it will be repayment-free for six months. The maximum loan is $250,000, for a term of up to three years. Creative and cultural businesses are eligible to apply. This complements $8 billion in measures announced by Australian banks to support small business by deferring small business loan repayments for six months.

In addition, the Department of Social Services has a hotline 1300 653 227 and web advice on support for workers who lose income because of COVID-19 health measures. The Treasury Business Unit also has advice on all other financial measures for small business. Further details about the measures can be found here

For those who are fortunate to be employed in secure jobs at this time, please think of making a donation to Support Act, the charity for the music sector which is providing crisis relief services to artists, roadies and music workers directly affected during this difficult time.

As our creative thinkers imagine new ways of developing arts and cultural projects using digital platforms or micro small gatherings, we will keep you informed as new opportunities to make, create and engage emerge from this new world we are all experiencing.

Stay safe and well.
Elizabeth