Worldwide icon-chevron-right South Pacific icon-chevron-right Australia icon-chevron-right Sydney icon-chevron-right Many of Sydney’s arts institutions have lost their funding – here's how you can help
SWF has lost its Australia Council four-year funding
Photograph: Prudence Upton SWF has lost its Australia Council four-year funding

Many of Sydney’s arts institutions have lost their funding – here's how you can help

While times are tough for everyone, the huge funding hit announced by the Australia Council was startling in scale.


Nicole Kidman got her start in the entertainment business at the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), but now the 55-year-old company is facing an uncertain future in the face of savage funding cuts that have kicked the arts sector while it’s down.

Nobody denies Sydney’s major arts venues and events had to be shuttered for public health reasons. However, with many individual creatives already ineligible for the government's JobKeeper hardship funds, the alarming news that many significant arts bodies have also lost out on multi-year funding from the Australia Council has made a dire situation so much worse.

High-profile institutions left reeling after Friday's funding cuts were announced include the Sydney Writers’ Festival (SWF), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) and the Campbelltown Arts Centre. Unable to generate revenue from ticket sales, and with little to no government support likely in the near-term at least, now more than ever is the time to tip in a little if you can to help out our cultural hubs.

You can support the AYTP’s drama and writing workshops for young people aged 4-26 by donating here.

Staggeringly, one of the city's most important visual arts destinations, the Museum of Contemporary Art, was also defunded. Until recently, they hosted several exhibitions in the Biennale of Sydney's celebration of First Nations art, some of which can now be viewed online.

"The Australia Council was the first public funding agency to support the MCA 20 years ago, recognising then its national role," says MCA Director, Elizabeth Ann Macgregor OBE. "We are obviously very disappointed at this outcome when we are one of the biggest employers of visual artists in the country and attract such a large audience for contemporary art."

You can help by becoming a member of the MCA or donate here.

The SWF had already cancelled this year’s program, which would have kicked off on April 27. While it was unsuccessful in securing Aus Council funding, a lifeline appeared today in the form of the Copyright Agency. The literary licensing body has pledged to help SWF stage a digital version of this year’s derailed program.

“We’re so grateful to the Copyright Agency for extending this lifeline to the Festival,” artistic director Michaela McGuire says. “It gives us the means to restore the 2020 Festival as a digital program by enabling us to pay Australian writers for their participation and allows us to celebrate and promote their incredible work, which right now is more important than ever.”

You can donate to the SWF here.

Further shocking the city’s literary scene, the Sydney Review of Books (SRB) also lost its four-year funding. “There’s no denying that this is a substantial blow to our plans for the coming years,” editor Catriona Menzies-Pike says, “but I can assure you that we have no plans to shut up shop. We’ll regroup in the months ahead to plot a new path for the journal.”

South-western Sydney gem the Campbelltown Arts Centre also took a hit, but you can give them a hand up by becoming a friend of the centre here

With the Federal government so far unwilling to support the arts with an industry-specific rescue package, it may well rest on our shoulders to help out in any way we can.

Need a shot of creative inspiration?  Check out these great ways to experience art online.

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