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Copyright Agency releases $375,000 and brings forward $1.8m in Cultural Fund grants in COVID-19 Support

BY Copyright Agency | 06-Apr-2020
Copyright Agency announces a full program of support for writers, visual artists and publishers in the face of the severe challenges they face as a result of COVID-19.

Caption: Visual artist member Amanda Marburg in her studio, 2017.

Photography by Olivia Tran.
Under this program, Copyright Agency will provide an additional $375,000 in grants to creators, as well as bringing forward to the first quarter of next financial year the forecasted annual $1.8 million of grants under the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

Copyright Agency has incorporated feedback from its key stakeholders and directly addresses the fundamental challenges they face at this critical time. It includes a number of elements that will provide significant support to our members in the coming months.

Mr Adam Suckling, CEO Copyright Agency said, “The creative infrastructure that supports the production, promotion and sales of writing and visual arts work is being smashed. This means writers, visual artists and publishers are doing it very tough.

“COVID-19 could have a truly devastating effect on the work of Australian writers and visual artists and on the value and reach of Australian story telling.

“While no one doubts the resilience of Australian creators, they do need support to nurture and bring to readers and audiences, works that entertain, challenge and inform us all. It is difficult to overstate just how hard people in the sector work, what a grind it can be and how precarious things are presently,” Mr Suckling added. There are six core elements to the program:

• Virtual writers’ festivals – This will support scheduled writers’ festivals to make their programs digitally available by paying the Australian participants the participation fees they would have received if the program had proceeded normally. This money will cover over a hundred writers and interviewers in festivals we already support including the Sydney Writers' Festival and Byron Writers Festival. The agency has included funds to cover assistance to other festivals that may not be able to proceed as ‘normal’.

Copyright agency also supports the Perth Writers’ Festival and the Adelaide Writers’ Festival that thankfully took place in February and March respectively.

• Emergency action fund – This is composed of $150,000 to be allocated in grants of between $5,000 – $20,000. It will focus on distributing this money as widely as possible so most grants will be around $5,000. The funding is open for writing and visual arts projects that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 or are responding directly to it. Applicants to this program should ideally demonstrate that they have matched funding.

• New commissioned literary works - The program will support the publication of between 20-30 works by Australian writers responding to the disasters Australia has faced in early 2020. The working title for this is Our Year of Fire, Flood, and Plague: Australian writers respond to the challenges of 2020. Pieces from this series will be published in The Guardian. Money is also set aside to facilitate a book publication of these pieces. Writers of each of these essays will be paid the rates recommended by the Australian Society of Authors (ASA).

Copyright Agency already supports a range of literary magazines including Australian Book Review, Island, Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, and Griffith Review. In addition to this, the agency recently announced that it is supporting along with Nine and News Corp the writing and publication of more arts review and criticism coverage. The Australian is publishing a column each week on Australian poets by poet and academic Sarah Holland-Batt, and Nine will shortly announce the six critics in residence it will appoint to the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

• Funding for innovative on-line projects – This includes an amount to support innovative projects that are responding to COVID-19. Writers and interviewers across Australia are setting up smart new ways of taking Australian writers to audiences. This money is available for the payment of monies to writers who participate in such on-line projects.

• New commissioned visual arts work – This component is for photographic and other visual documentation of the crisis for publication in journals, magazines and exhibition in a major gallery, and to possibly tour when the current events are resolved. The funding available for the generation of this work is $25,000.

• Funding for visual arts events – This component of the program covers some funding to support virtual launches for events that Copyright Agency already supports such as the John Fries Award.

Copyright Agency will also fund an outstanding project that takes poetry to Australian school students, run by Poetry in Action. It offers a highly engaging and interactive program of actors performing to bring poetry alive. It has helped educate and enthuse around 85,000 students last year about poetry. Poetry In Action has developed a digital version of this service for teachers.

In addition to the initiatives outlined above, Copyright Agency will bring forward the planned FY2021 allocations to the first quarter of next financial year.

“Copyright Agency is resolutely focused on ensuring that we continue to collect and distribute the money due to our members with minimum interruption to our distribution schedule. Copyright Agency distributed close to $116m to members last year for the use of an enormous amount of members’ material by 3.8 M school students, tens of thousands of university students, hundreds of thousands of public servants and major businesses across Australia,” adds Mr Suckling.

The Copyright Agency Board has resolved that the $375,000 to support the initiatives will come from the Copyright Agency’s Future Fund.

Application forms to apply for the funding will be available shortly.

Information on the new guidelines and timelines under the initiative is available on the Copyright Agency website - www.copyright.com.au/2020/04/covid-19-support-program/