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COVID-19 Omicron Relief Funding

26 May update: The Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Grant for Self-Employed Individuals and Organisations are now closed for new applications. We are still processing existing applications. Please sign up to our newsletter where we will provide regular updates.

Following the shift to the ‘Red’ traffic light setting and growing pressures on the arts and culture sector, the Government is moving swiftly to provide more support for the arts and culture sector.  

The funding package is worth over $121 million in additional money, supporting the existing $374 million COVID Arts and Culture recovery programme.  

  • The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme will be boosted by $70.7 million – giving arts and cultural sector event organisers the confidence to plan and deliver events right through to the end of January 2023. Key eligibility criteria have also been extended.  
  • The Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund has been provided an additional $35.5 million to fund more direct support for individuals and organisations most affected by the restrictions introduced in January 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • The limit on funding for individual organisations has been increased from $100,000 to $300,000. 
  • A one-off grant of $5,000 was available to eligible self-employed individuals/sole traders in the arts and cultural sector who have lost income or opportunities to work as a result of the restrictions introduced in January 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19. 
  • The Screen Production Recovery Fund has been boosted by a further $15 million. 

We encourage you to sign up to the Manatū Taonga newsletter where we will provide regular updates.


Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme 

The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme is a fund to help provide confidence for the arts and culture events sector to continue organising their events.  

The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme will be boosted by $70.7 million from its current $22.5 million allocation, enabling it to be extended until 31 January 2023. Key eligibility criteria have been extended, such as the criteria for proof of a financial commitment for an event to take place. This also includes extension of criteria to cover cancellations due to a lead performer getting Covid or needing to isolate.

This revised timescale will encourage development of events for New Zealand audiences through late 2022 and early 2023 while also providing income support to artists, practitioners and production crew who rely on those events. 

This support scheme is about providing certainty for event organisers, confidence for vaccinated New Zealanders to attend and enjoy events, and reassurance for artists and crew that they can get paid if their events can’t go ahead as planned.  

The Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme covers unrecoverable costs, payments yet to be made to the likes of artists and production crew, and reasonable costs to the promoter or organiser for the planning and development of the event.  

Events with attendee capacity of 100-5000 ticketed or un-ticketed, or more than 5000 un-ticketed (i.e. free) are covered by this scheme. The Events Transition Support Payment Scheme, announced by Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash, is designed to support larger, paid-ticketed events with over 5000 attendees.  

More information is available here: Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme   


Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund — Organisations

The Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund is a fund of last resort to support cultural organisations and sole traders with employees, at clear risk of no longer operating. 

An additional $35.5 million has been allocated for the Fund and will be distributed through two funding streams. One stream is for organisations and the other stream is for self-employed individuals. 

Organisations, including sole traders with employees can apply for up to $300,000 through the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund — Organisations. This fund is currently open for applications.

Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund — Organisations 


Grant for Self Employed Individuals 

Self-employed individuals could apply for a one-off $5,000 grant through the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund – Grant for self-employed individuals. This fund is no longer taking new applications.

Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund — Grant for Self-Employed Individuals 


Screen Production Recovery Fund extension  

The Screen Production Recovery Fund has been critical to maintaining confidence in the screen sector, attracting finance, and keeping production activity going.  

It allows screen productions that meet eligibility criteria to claim some of the costs imposed by increased alert levels and is accessed through either the New Zealand Film Commission or NZ On Air.  

The Screen Production Recovery Fund will be boosted by a new allocation of $15 million, with $7.9 million of this funding allocated to New Zealand Film Commission and $7.1 million allocated to NZ On Air. 

The Screen Production Recovery Fund will receive a boost to enable an extension of the fund through to at least 31 January 2023, to maximise production activity and minimise the impacts of any COVID-19 outbreaks. 


What about the other COVID recovery Funds? 

The Arts and Culture COVID Recovery Programme announced in late May 2020 includes more than 25 initiatives designed to deliver short-term relief as well as longer-term support for the sector. In September 2021 it was announced that $37.5m funding would be brought forward from the programme to provide financial support to the cultural sector through the COVID-19 Delta Relief Funding.  

The Cultural Sector Innovation Fund: Supports innovative projects that improve the sustainability and resilience of the sector. Round one is being delivered through a nationwide events series, Te Urungi: Innovating Aotearoa.  

Creative Arts Recovery and Employment (CARE) Fund: Provides $70 million over three years to create employment and training opportunities, ensure vital skills, talent and creative infrastructure are not lost, and maintain and expand public access to creative and cultural experiences. 

Cultural Installations and Events: Bringing culture and creativity to people in our communities. They must be free to experience and in easy to access spaces people regularly go or are easy to discover, such as community hubs, shopping malls, parks, beaches, marae, churches, reserves, or along a waterfront. Round two of Cultural Installations and Events is expected to open in 2022. 

Cultural Sector Capability Fund: Provides $20 million over two years to support the cultural sector to adapt to the COVID-19 environment by funding activities that build skills and knowledge, and provide access to advice, services, tools and resources. Round two of the Cultural Sector Capability Fund is expected to open in 2022.  

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please get in touch by emailing [email protected] 


Guidance and support for the arts and culture sector during the Red setting 

For general guidance and to keep up to date with the COVID Protection Framework (traffic light system) please visit the Unite Against COVID website.  

COVID-19: About the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic lights)

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Updated on 27th May 2022