But artists continue to report loopholes in the JobSeeker and JobKeeper wage subsidy program.

Casuals and contractors working for state entities such as the Art Gallery of NSW, the Sydney Opera House, National Gallery of Victoria, and Melbourne Arts Centre are ineligible for the JobKeeper scheme due to a long-standing convention between state and federal governments, according to the Members Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The 1000 X 1000 Crisis Cash for Artists aims to provide stop-gap support for those arts workers slipping through the JobKeeper or JobSeeker safety nets.

It is to be promoted through more than 40 arts organisations affiliated with Theatre Network Australia including Sydney Theatre Company, Belvoir, Force Majeure, Circus Oz, and Circa with the campaign to raise $1 million to provide grants of $1000 to 1000 independent artists in the performing arts who can demonstrate loss of income as a result of COVID-19.

Theatre Network Australia chair Jill Smith said CPA’s matched funding would act as an incentive for more donors to come on board, knowing that a donation of $1000 would support two artists instead of one.

Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne, in Hamer Hall, Melbourne.

Claire Spencer, CEO of Arts Centre Melbourne, in Hamer Hall, Melbourne. Credit:Daniel Pockett

“The independent sector has been devastated by the shutdown of the arts due to COVID-19, and a small grant can pay for urgent materials, technology, or just pay a gas bill.”

Creative Partnerships Australia chief executive officer Fiona Menzies said the offer to match funds acknowledged the adversity and isolation that artists felt and the impact of the temporary closure of venues and postponement of events were having on livelihoods.

Matched funding was a proven way to attract additional funds from the private sector to the arts, she said.

“It is our hope that this funding will assist to immediately respond to the critical situation facing Australia’s artists, and to help sustain our vibrant creative sector.”

Casuals at the Sydney Opera House have been without shifts since the closure of its public spaces in mid-March. These workers were provided with six weeks of income maintenance support up until April 26 when wage-subsidy schemes came into full effect.

“We are calling on the federal government to work with the states on a solution so these hundreds of thousands of workers, also local government, are not left in the cold and forced to go onto social security,” a Media and Entertainment Alliance Australia spokesperson said.

“The federal government could fix this by amending the eligibility criteria for JobKeeper, or the states could step into the breach to subsidise the income of public sector employees stood down because of coronavirus.”


Art Gallery of NSW confirmed it was not eligible to apply for the JobKeeper payments.

“Our permanent, full-time and temporary staff continue to work behind the scenes while our doors are closed to the public,” a gallery spokesperson said.

“During this period we have also sought to retain and redeploy a number of our regular casuals within the gallery.”

The Opera House’s chief executive officer, Louise Herron, said the venue was committed to supporting staff as much as possible.

No full-time, part-time or casual staff had been stood down as a result of the pandemic.

“All casual employees remain important members of the Opera House’s workforce and will be offered shifts when activity resumes,” she said.

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