Inside the word emergency is emerge; from an emergency new things come. Overcoming alienation and isolation is now an urgent demand for the cultural and creative sector and while most of the first wave of funding support has been rolled-out for independent artists and small to medium arts and cultural organisations impacted by COVID-19, there are opportunities and time for restructuring inequities, re-centering a more inclusive definition of contact for art production and presentation, and a more direct relationship to artists.

It was three years in August that the National Association of the Visual Arts (NAVA), launched a strategic plan Future/Forward with a Code of Practice for the Professional Australian Visual Arts, Craft and Design Sector led by Esther Anatolitis, Executive Director.  Arts Day on the Hill is Australia’s national day of advocacy of the arts.  This year’s annual Parliament sitting was to have been on Wednesday, August 12, but has been cancelled.

An Advocacy Program of workshops on policy, media, political and public engagement in the arts has been running every Wednesday afternoon since April and vodcast through the NAVA website. The day’s program is to be presented online and expressions of interest for a media spokesperson, or advocate to champion an arts agenda are open until July 31st.

Anatoltis, who will step down from her position at the end-of August, has championed a series of campaigns providing significant in-roads that have strengthened national levels of advocacy in the arts.  In a recent call-out to amplify voices of artists to create our future, she says of her decision, “dynamic leadership also requires decisive change that makes way for critical new voices”.  The Board has appointed Penelope Benton, as Acting CEO.

The Australian Council for Arts (ACA) has constituted a breathing space and a toolbox to recommence practice and operations to audiences, customers and visitors which supports jurisdictional compliance.  The initiative is a part of the Government’s support package that includes a Creative Economy Taskforce in which the ACA is a partner.

Re-activate: beyond step three of the Government’s 3-Step Framework for a COVIDSafe Australia is a resource offering a six-step guideline for the arts and cultural industry to enable planning for moving into cultural recovery and towards re-opening.

Launched in July, a week following the announcement of the federal Government’s $250 million JobMaker plan, RISE to support arts and creative businesses to resume activity and to transition innovative ways of working with biddings to range between $75,000 to $2 million.  The grants have a focus on organisational sustainability and jobs created.  However individual artists or practitioners will be able to apply.  The guidelines for applications for RISE funding is expected to be released soon.

The City of Sydney has second round Matching Grants open at the end-of-the-month for community based projects and recognises contributions to the value of $10,000. Venue hire support grants and sponsorship is open all year round until budget allocation has been exhausted.  Quick response grants for one-off priority support individuals $500, and groups up to $2,000.

The Artist’s Benevolent Fund has been reinvigorated by NAVA and Art Month Sydney and with no deadline, offering a one-off payment of $2,000. Donations are also accepted and are tax-deductible.

“The arts is a highly employment-intensive industry whose workers are Australia’s leading innovators. The future of work and the new post-pandemic economy relies on creative thinking for its success. This isn’t just about enjoying what we all love most. It’s about ensuring we’re building the strongest foundations for the brightest future.” Esther Anatolitis, on Australia’s Future, June 2020.

Cover Image: Esther Anatolitis and Minister for the Arts, Paul Fletcher MP at Arts Day on the Hill 2019. Photo by Irene Dowdy.