6 May 2020

ACT backs its artists with ground-breaking $500,000 support package

| Ian Bushnell
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Jess Green, performing as Pheno

Jess Green, performing as Pheno: ”This is a place that is supporting art making and it’s really significant to have that sense of community and government support.” Photo: File.

Singer/guitarist Jess Green’s income from performing has evaporated over the past couple of months and it doesn’t look any better for the rest of the year so a nation-leading support package for the arts is literally music to her ears.

Performing as Pheno, Jess is one of 66 Canberra creatives who have received ACT Government support to help them continue their work during the COVID-19 crisis.

Minister for the Arts, Creative Industries and Cultural Events Gordon Ramsay said the $500,000 Homefront package would support the community by keeping Canberra creative during this unprecedented time.

He said grants of up to $10,000 per artist would be used for activities including research and development, making of new works or sharing of works via online platforms, and for artists fees and living expenses to undertake arts activities.

“The Government is a great supporter of Canberra’s creative sector and I’m glad that this package will provide essential and immediate support to our artists during this difficult and challenging period,” he said.

“We took strong and decisive action to support our creative community and we’re the first jurisdiction to announce direct and immediate relief to artists who were financially impacted by COVID-19.”

Jess has received $6500 to help her write and record new material, while also developing her production skills.

She said the money would help maintain momentum on a project she had begun just before everything ”went down in flames” and meant she could use the time away from the stage meaningfully.

It also vindicates her move back to her home town from Sydney.

”This is a place that is supporting art making and it’s really significant to have that sense of community and government support,” she said.

Jess said Music ACT was instrumental in guiding her to apply but Homefront was getting internet hits across Australia and even overseas, and friends, including one based in Berlin, were letting her know about it.

She was proud that the ACT was setting such a great example, and people wished there were similar things happening where they lived.

”I’m proud of that, as a region setting the tone for the poor, and recognising freelance work and freelance art work is not being addressed properly from a federal level,” she said.

Jess has been fortunate to fall back on teaching guitar by Zoom, a learning curve in itself, and that her painter husband has had some regular work, although as an artistic family COVID-19 delivered a double whammy.

She is desperately hoping for live music to resume but says it needs to be staged carefully. ”I don’t know how venues will cope if a second wave comes through,” she said.

Musong Mbogo

Musong Mbogo and an earlier exhibition. The government assistance will help him develop a new show. Photo: Rohan Thomson.

For grateful young painter Musong Mbogo his $3,500 grant will allow him to buy materials and supplies, develop a new show, and take some online courses, as well as help with the basics.

He said that without it creativity would definitely take a back seat

For those who missed out Mr Ramsay said artists should continue to look for other government funding options including its ongoing arts activities round which provides up to $5000 for individual artists, as well as the government’s premier arts funding round which offers grants from $5000-$50,000, which opens on 1 June.

For further information on funding opportunities visit the artsACT website.

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