“It’s important that we practise physical distancing, but sadly, the measures that save lives also hurt the livelihoods of many in our community,” says City of Sydney lord mayor Clover Moore. “Those who work in our creative, arts and entertainment industries are facing months of cancelled events, lost income and uncertainty.”

Moore is putting the city’s money where its mouth is, pushing through a $7.25 million fund for grants to help artists and arts organisations, not-for-profits, community groups and small businesses in the City of Sydney area get through the coronavirus crisis. The council is also fast-tracking capital works, such as paving upgrades, park and landscape renewals, and building improvements, to boost employment and pump money into the economy.

Small businesses will be able to apply for relief packages of up to $10,000, which can be put towards the costs of changing a business model (for example, from an eat-in diner to takeaway); developing online and ecommerce functionality; training and professional development; and capital works, such as building upgrades.

A bunch of cultural sector resilience grants have also opened up, with sole traders and not-for-profit arts organisations with fewer than 20 employees entitled to apply. These include live-music venues, arts festivals, dance schools and galleries. Organisations can apply for up to $20,000 and individuals up to $10,000 to pay for wages, admin costs, and training and development.

There’s also a fund for artists and collectives to develop new projects during the pandemic. They can obtain up to $20,000 to spend on researching and developing new artworks and performances, coming up with solutions to recover from the pandemic, and envisioning ways performers and artists can work and collaborate while restrictions on public gatherings are in place.

Community-service grants of between $5000 and $50,000 are also available for organisations to provide food, digital assistance and social connection to vulnerable people. And there’s a series of “quick response” grants of between $2000 and $5000 to help feed vulnerable community members and provide them with digital assistance, deliver performances and classes online, and help businesses continue to trade. Those grants can be applied for by individuals, sole traders, community groups, and both non-profit and for-profit organisations.

“We know the City of Sydney is the heart of the state’s cultural sector, and we know that sector is really hurting,” says Moore. “Facilities are closing and opportunities to work are rapidly diminishing. This has been a terrific shock to everyone who works in this space – from artists, actors and musicians to producers, technicians and backstage staff.

“What we’re trying to do is support them through this period of survival, to continue creative development and make sure they’re ready for the renaissance when we’re able to move past the coronavirus.”

Applications for grants are now open. Find out more here.