Corporate Plan 2020-2024 deferral

The publication of the Australia Council’s 2020-2024 Corporate Plan will be deferred due to COVID-19.

The Finance Minister has approved an amendment to the PGPA Rule – the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Amendment (Corporate Plans) Rules 2020. This amendment provides the capacity for accountable authorities of entities and directors of Commonwealth companies impacted by COVID-19 to defer the publication of 2020-21 corporate plans up until 31 January 2021.

The Council’s response to COVID-19 consists of a range of expanded activities that has required considerable reallocation of resources.  This activity includes:

  • development and delivery of new investment streams to support creatives and creative organisations
  • specific support for First Nations artists and organisations
  • analysis and support for multi-year funded organisations
  • developing protocols and resources for the arts and cultural industries to consider in preparation for moving into the next phase of Australia’s response to COVID-19
  • digital capacity building and developing new digital platforms to engage and connect with Australian artists and audiences
  • research and analysis.

Resilience Fund

On 31 March 2020 the Council announced the suspension of many investment programs and repurposed all available uncommitted funds from the 2019-2020 financial year to immediately respond to the COVID-19 crisis. The Council received Departmental approval through the Office for the Arts to repurpose 2019–2020 uncommitted funds in all government directed programs and budgets and allocate these to the Resilience Fund. The Resilience Fund was created to provide immediate relief to Australian artists, arts workers and arts organisations and support their livelihoods, practice and operations.

Over $6M was redirected to three new programs:

  1. Survive – small grants for individuals, groups and organisations to offset or recoup financial losses due to cancelled activity.
  2. Adapt – grants for individuals, groups and organisations to adapt their practice and explore new operating models.
  3. Create– grants for individuals, groups and organisations to continue to create artistic work and develop creative responses in a time of disruption.

Support for First Nations artists and organisations

The Council convened weekly First Nations arts and culture roundtables, beginning in March and concluding in July 2020. The roundtables gathered sector intelligence relating to impacts on individuals, organisations and communities, across all art forms.

Intelligence gathered through the roundtables was compiled and used to advise the Council and Government regarding the appropriate response for the First Nations arts and culture sector.

Analysis of the immediate and longer-term needs, concerns and potential impacts for First Nations arts and culture has been published on the Council’s website and provided to Office for the Arts and the Minister, as we continue to monitor and assess the mid to long term impacts. These include potential for significant loss of First Nations arts, culture and language. Drawing on research and sector intelligence, this research highlights opportunities for First Nations arts specific support and cross-portfolio advocacy and engagement.

The ongoing impacts of COVID-19 on First Nations arts, culture and communities, including risks to livelihoods and intergenerational transmission of cultural knowledge, are key considerations as the Council investigates future needs and potential approaches for the next stage of data gathering on the impacts of COVID-19 on the arts sector.

The Council launched the Cherish Fund in June 2020, seeking EOIs to support activity of First Nations artists and cultural practitioners. The fund supports three streams of activity, including Living Libraries: supporting cultural knowledge; Creative Practice: supporting artistic creative expression; and Creative Workforce: supporting artworkers in a digital world. The second round of the Cherish Fund has been announced. Applications for this second round open Monday 3 August and close Tuesday 6 October.

Multi-year funded organisations

The Council has completed modelling for a number of scenarios based on 2019 revenue and expenditure of multi-year funded organisations. The modelling takes a short to medium term view of the impact of COVID-19. This includes restrictions on presentation of performances, reduced box office income and private sector support. This modelling was shared with the respective state and territory agencies and additional information was sought from organisations.

The Council continues to convene meetings with all state agencies to discuss the solvency of organisations that are at risk. We have provided transition funding for organisations that were unsuccessful in the very competitive and most recent Four Year Funding round at 70% of their current funding levels for an additional year to support them through this challenging period.

Protocols and resources for sector recovery

The Council is focused on working with the sector to develop tools, strategies, advocacy capabilities and approaches for the issues, challenges and opportunities ahead. This work encompasses sector recovery along with capacity building, mobility and exchange, and responding to and leading current trends.

The Council has developed a recovery Framework, Re-ignite, which has produced protocols and resources to assist arts and cultural organisations prepare for the recovery stages out of COVID-19 restrictions. Re-activate: beyond step 3 supports organisation and creatives to ensure their activity align with jurisdictional compliance. 

The Council is conducting national sector consultation between July – October 2020. Through direct dialogue with the sector, the consultation process will inform the Council’s recovery initiatives, investments and priority sector development activities.  

Capacity building programs

The Council redeployed resources from capacity building programs and developed a new online webinar series, Creative Connections, to build sector capacity and leadership skills.

The webinars focus on three areas: crisis leadership; arts in the digital age; and diverse and inclusive leadership. Creative Connections webinars are free with two sessions scheduled each week, enabling hundreds of participants to join a one-way lecture style with experts. Participants can attend live or access the recording after the event.

The Council is also delivering Future Form, a program tailored for small to medium arts organisations to innovate their business model, recognising traditional modes of operation or engagement will not be sufficient for the future sustainability of the cultural sector.

New digital platforms

The Council has developed a digital community to provide support for the arts and creative sector where they can present their work to online audiences and upskill their capability to distribute work online. Think Inside the Square is an online webinar conversation that has been developed for the Arts and creative industry: digital support Facebook group. The Facebook group was launched on 23 March 2020. Every week, industry experts, artists and digital adaptors join the panel to discuss solutions and ideas that inform the industry. This series has been designed to answer the needs of the group and as the circumstances change day by day, so do the most important topics.

The Council has developed a new Instagram channel @Stream_arts_. This channel supports the promotion of works streaming online during COVID-19. Its purpose is to increase the reach of Australian online cultural work and to grow the audience for these works.

Research and analysis

The Council has and will continue to undertake research and gather sector intelligence to gain a picture of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australia’s arts, culture and creativity.

The Council’s research includes:

  • understanding changes in behaviours and sentiments of audiences in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Results from the Audience Outlook Monitor are being published progressively, with the first phase published in mid-May 2020, with over 23,000 respondents. Future data collection phases are planned for July and September this year. 
  • commissioned research to explore how Australians are engaging with the arts in COVID-19 lockdown as part of Lonergan Research’s regular Omnibus Survey. Key findings have been published, including Australians’ online arts engagement, creation, reading and the reasons for engaging with the arts.

Analysis of Government support packages

The Council has undertaken thorough analysis of opportunities available for artists, groups and organisations through the Government’s support packages, including JobKeeper and JobSeeker.

On behalf of the Minister and with the Office for the Arts, the Council convenes a roundtable for cultural peak body organisations. This fortnightly roundtable commenced in March 2020 and is proving an efficient mechanism for dialogue between the cultural industry and Government on emergent issues and concerns.

The Council continues to work closely with state and territory cultural agencies, including sharing analysis and information regarding their support programs. We are collating responses to the COVID-19 pandemic from arts funding agencies in Australia and around the world. We have made resources available – including FAQs and guidelines for accessing support – through the COVID-19 information hub on our website

Learn more about the Corporate Plan 2019-2023.

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