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Continuing To Sustain The Arts Through Covid-19 – Enhanced Grants and Support 2021
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong announced on 8 March 2021 that there will be a top-up of S$20 million to fund a second tranche of the Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP), new grants for self-employed workers and business transformation, as well as extensions for other support. This brings government funding for the package to a total of S$75 million.
Here’s a look at the new support measures that have been implemented.
Arts and Culture Resilience Package (ACRP) Operating Grant
The first tranche of funding first announced in October 2020 provided either S$50,000 or S$75,000, depending on the eligibility criteria, to over 220 organisations involved in the arts industry. This second tranche will provide a slightly smaller amount of S$35,000 to defray costs.
The same eligibility criteria for the first tranche will apply for this second tranche as well. To qualify for the grant, organisations must:
Have active employers who have been making CPF contributions for their local employees, and are not already receiving >75% of its operating funding from the government;
Have industry/niche capabilities that are crucial to the sustainability of the arts ecosystem endorsed by NAC, NHB, or DesignSG.
Provide a breakdown of their employees’ profile as well as commit to preserving existing jobs in their organisations to the best of their ability and where viable, and provide a written statement of capability development and prospective work plans.
The National Arts Council and the other co-administering agencies (the National Heritage Board and DesignSingapore Council) will reach out directly to eligible organisations regarding this grant in mid-March 2021.
Business Transformation Fund (BTF)
A new scheme that has been introduced, The BTF aims to support the transformation of arts and culture organisations to be more efficient and sustainable.
There are two tracks to this Fund:
A new Business Transformation Grant (BTG) will support grounds-up interests by arts organisations to support both the digital and non-digital aspects of business transformation. The BTG also encourages arts and culture organisations to come together to address common pain points and/or co-create solutions.
The BTG will provide a grant quantum of up to S$30,000 per project for company-specific business transformation efforts, and up to S$200,000 per project for co-solutioning projects involving multiple arts organisations, or for projects with potential for wider industry spin-offs.
The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) as well as the NAC will also proactively seek to provide commission for and partnerships with suitable partners to co-create business transformation solutions to be piloted for the arts and culture sector.
NAC will be engaging arts and culture stakeholders on their views in order to determine the scope of the BTG. The grant is targeted to launch in June 2021. More details on the engagements and timeline will be shared in due course.
Self-Employed Person (SEP) Grant
Also unveiled during this new announcement is the SEP Grant for local freelancers and arts and culture groups who collaborate with them.
This project-based support provides up to S$50,000 funding per project, which could include live performances, digital presentations or skills development.
The SEP Grant aims to address the immediate needs and sustain livelihoods of arts and culture freelancers by minimising job and income loss, creating more work opportunities, and enhancing the skills of freelancers. As such, it will give priority to projects that benefit a larger number of freelancers, are digital or involve capability development.
As with the BTF, NAC will be engaging arts stakeholders to scope this grant further, and the aim is to launch the grant by June 2021 as well. More details on the engagements and timeline will be shared in due course.
Self-employed arts freelancers may also tap on existing broad-based support measures such as the COVID-19 Recovery Grant (CRG) and the Self-employed Persons Income Relief Scheme (SIRS).
Extension of other existing support
MCCY also announced that they will extend the 80% subsidy for venue hire and in-house production costs (where applicable) until June 2021. Any extension beyond June 2021 will be reviewed subsequently, taking into account the prevailing national situation.
This subsidy is for arts and culture activities permitted to resume in Phase 3 at venues in the Esplanade, National Gallery Singapore, National Heritage Board museums and heritage institutions, STPI Creative Workshop & Gallery, Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre, Singapore Conference Hall, as well as those managed by Arts House Limited. It is also extended to select arts centres with shared facilities under NAC. MCCY will also expand the subsidy to more venues than the ones listed above.
In addition, as announced by Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Heng Swee Keat in his Budget announcement, the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) will be extended for industries in Tier 2 Sectors (which includes Arts and Culture) with 10 per cent support for wages paid from April to June 2021.
Supporting the arts community
The government has shown that it will not neglect the arts as it continues to provide support for sectors of the economy that need help the most. Hopefully, activities will soon be allowed to resume at scale once more.
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