$17 million for local art

The City of Melbourne will invest $17 million in the arts to keep Melburnians connected to our creative sector as the city responds to COVID-19. 

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne’s draft Budget for 2020–21 invested significantly in our arts and cultural sectors. 

“Melbourne is Australia’s undisputed arts and cultural capital, but these sectors need to be supported due to the severe downturn from COVID-19,” the Lord Mayor said. 

“Arts and culture are a huge factor in our city’s nation-leading liveability and contribute $31 billion annually to the Victorian economy. “

“Investing in our creative talent now will cement our city’s strengths, while protecting local jobs and supporting billions of dollars in economic activity. More arts and culture in Melbourne means local businesses thrive and more people stay in jobs. “

Arts, Culture and Heritage portfolio Chair Councillor Rohan Leppert said the funding would enable creatives to continue to work through the shutdown by developing new works and online projects. 

“We will invest $4.6 million for arts programming and artist support across our ArtPlay children’s space at Birrarung Marr, the Signal creative studio for young people along Flinders Walk and our Arts House contemporary performance space in North Melbourne,” Cr Leppert said. 

“An injection of $1.5 million will boost public art projects to make our city streets and open spaces more interesting and vibrant for the benefit of everyone who enjoys our public spaces.”

“Our Test Sites public art program is now open for expressions of interest with a pool of $125,000 available. Grants of up to $5000 will be made to 25 artists to participate in this online public art project.”

“In collaboration with Testing Grounds, we hope the artists will be able to come together and share their projects once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.”

Testing Grounds program director and curator Arie Rain Glorie said the public art program was a rare opportunity for artists.

“Testing Grounds has been a partner with the City of Melbourne on this program since the beginning of last year. Normally artists would get the opportunity to come to Testing Grounds and get advice on doing public art and go through ideas,” he said.

“Because the site is closed due to COVID-19 the City of Melbourne has approached us to do it as a virtual program, where people get paid to research and develop an idea.”

“It’s open to all types of creative practice, and at all different levels of experience. In previous years artists had to test a physical public artwork, whereas now we will help them get pitch ready.”

This takes much of the pressure out of the program, while the financial support has been raised significantly.

“It’s a really great opportunity that can only be beneficial to artists particularly in that it’s not so outcome focused, a rare opportunity for artists to do research and development without the pressure of presentation,” he said. 

Cr Leppert said the council was also providing funding for multi-year grants.

“We’re also providing $4.2 million in annual and multi-year arts grants. We have lifted our annual arts grants pool to $850,000 and will recommence indexation of multi-year grants to support small, medium and independent arts organisations,” he said.

“We are thrilled to be delivering YIRRAMBOI in 2021, showcasing outstanding First Nations artists. Our arts grants framework will include $125,000 in support for artists with a focus on contemporary Aboriginal works to deliver as part of YIRRAMBOI.” 

Expressions of interest for the Test Sites 2020 program can be made online until May 31 •

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