NSW introduces $43M fund to support COVID-impacted festivals

As of yesterday, major events disrupted by COVID may be eligible for a payout of up to 10 million dollars under the ‘Event Saver’ fund.

During Monday’s state press conference, NSW treasurer Matt Kean announced the Government’s new support fund for major events that are “cancelled or significantly disrupted” by changes to COVID-19 public health orders.

Finally, someone is looking out for the art kids… We hope.

Laneway Festival 2020 in Sydney. Credit: Don Arnold/WireImage

With an allocated budget of $43 million, the Event Saver fund aims to “underwrite sunk costs” for festivals that may be impacted by lockdowns, border closures, or other COVID-related misfortunes.

Initially proposed in October 2021, shortly before the launch of Victoria’s interruption insurance scheme, the Event Saver fund did not have a known budget until yesterday.

According to guidelines published by Create NSW, eligible events can receive a maximum payout of $10 million, which is expected to accommodate “all suppliers/creditors including performers, artists and other contractors.”

For events that are eligible to receive the fund, stage-one expressions of interest are now open for major events that were held or will be held, between December 15, 2021, and December 21, 2022. Applications close on September 30, 2022.

Following the announcement, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet stated that the Event Saver fund will provide a “critical lifeline” for event organisers forced to cancel or postpone events due to new COVID measures.

“Major events are a key economic driver that create thousands of jobs across the state,” said Perrottet. “The Event Saver Fund will ensure that organisers aren’t left high and dry as we work through this latest phase of the pandemic and sends a strong signal that the Government is here to support businesses.”

Since the onset of lockdowns, the Australian music and arts industry has been calling out for much-needed government support.

While this new grant won’t provide anywhere near enough compensation for the industry’s crippling revenue loss, it will at least provide some relief to musicians, festival staff and event organisers who have faced countless event cancellations and career disruptions over the last two years.