In response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic, the Copyright Agency has announced $375,000 in additional funding to support writers, artists and to move arts projects, festivals and events online. The Copyright Agency will also bring forward to the first quarter of the next financial year $1.8 million worth of grants under the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

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The Copyright Agency has announced it will be releasing $375,000 in grants and bringing forward to the first quarter of the next financial year (July – September 2020) $1.8 million worth of grants under the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund.

The move to support writers, visual artists and publishers will provide relief to individual artists in the nation's arts industry, particularly amid recent national and state government funding announcements largely geared towards supporting small to medium arts enterprises. The Copyright Agency will aim its funding toward moving arts events and festivals online, supporting emerging literary and artistic works focused on early 2020 Australian crises and supporting artists and writers affected by the global pandemic.

Focus on shifting arts online

Along with many of the nation's industries, the arts industry is looking to shift certain activities online during the COVID-19 pandemic. Three of the Copyright Agency funding program's core elements support this move online.

Facilitating virtual writers' festivals: The Copyright Agency will support scheduled writers' festivals to help make their programs digitally available. To do this the Copyright Agency will pay Australian participants the participation fees they would have received if the program had proceeded. The funding will also cover over a hundred writers and interviewers in festivals including the Sydney Writers' Festival, Byron Writers Festival and other festivals that may not proceed as normal.

Funding for innovative online projects: The Copyright Agency will support innovative projects that are helping the arts industry to respond to the COVID-19 shutdown. This includes projects using out-of-the-box thinking to put Australian writers in front of audiences. The Copyright Agency will also support making payments to writers who participate in such online projects.

Funding for visual arts events and virtual launches: The funding program will also support virtual launches for events that the Copyright Agency already supports, such as the John Fries Awards.

Commissioning new works relating to COVID-19 and 2020 Australian crises

Trending amongst the arts industry during the COVID-19 pandemic is investment into developing projects and new works while events and productions are on hiatus. The Copyright Agency is particularly interested in commissioning new works related to Australian crises faced in 2020, with this making up two core pillars in its funding strategy.

New commissioned literary works: Copyright Agency's program will support the publication of between 20-30 works by Australian writers responding to disasters Australia has faced in early 2020, including the bushfires and COVID-19 pandemic. 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. The Copyright Agency will also set money aside to facilitate a book publication of these pieces.

New commissioned visual arts work: Copyright Agency's program will provide $25,000 to support 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 COVID-19 events are resolved.

Emergency support for writing and visual arts projects affected by COVID-19

As its last core element of its funding program, Copyright Agency has developed an emergency action fund to support writing and visual arts projects affected by the global pandemic.

Emergency action fund: This fund will be comprised of $150,000 to be allocated in grants between $5,000 – $20,000 to writing and visual arts projects affected by COVID-19. To spread the funding more widely, Copyright Agency anticipates most grants will be around $5,000. Applicants should indeally demonstrate they already have matched funding.

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