Arts groups to get extended Covid-19 operating grants, venue hire subsidies

SINGAPORE – Support for arts and culture groups will be extended as the recent tightening of measures to curb a spike in Covid-19 cases impacts the already beleaguered sector.

The National Arts Council (NAC) announced on Friday (May 28) that it would provide a second tranche of operating grants under the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP).

It expects to disburse grants of $35,000 to more than 200 arts and culture organisations from July onwards, to help defray their operating costs.

It will also extend the 80 per cent venue hire subsidy to the end of September. Further extensions will be reviewed then, depending on the prevailing public health situation.

The ACRP was announced in March last year and has been topped up over the past year to $75 million.

The Government will also be providing wage subsidies of 50 per cent under the Jobs Support Scheme for performing arts and arts education groups, which have been severely curtailed by the new restrictions that are in place until June 13.

Live performance audiences are capped at 100, with pre-event testing required for audiences of 51 to 100 people. Performers have to be masked, while singing and the playing of brass or woodwind instruments is prohibited.

The restrictions led to a flurry of cancellations in what would have been a major month of comebacks for the arts scene, with the likes of the Singapore International Festival of Arts and the Esplanade’s Flipside festival on the calendar.

The NAC earlier said it would defray pre-event testing costs for live performances between May 16 and June 13 at 80 per cent of the cost of testing, or $50 per test per audience member, whichever is lower.

This was provided the arts companies had publicised the performances before May 5.

Private museums and art galleries, which are also affected by the reduced capacities, will receive wage subsidies of 30 per cent under the Jobs Support Scheme.

Eligible tenants of government-owned commercial properties will get one month of rental relief.

As for privately owned commercial properties, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore will disburse a half-month rental relief cash payout directly to qualifying tenants as part of a new rental support scheme.

Self-employed arts and culture practitioners can apply for aid under a temporary Covid-19 recovery grant scheme, if they have experienced income loss of at least 50 per cent for at least one month between May 16 and June 30. Those eligible may receive a one-off payout of up to $500.

The NAC said it would launch further grants for organisation transformation and the self-employed in mid-June.

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong acknowledged in a Facebook post on Friday that it has not been an easy time for arts and culture practitioners. “I thank you for your sacrifices to keep Singapore and Singaporeans safe.”

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