Grants to help artists in COVID-19

Blue Mountains City Council has stepped in to assist local artists whose work has been adversely affected during the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions.

Pre-lockdown: The Wollemi Artisan markets at the Cultural Centre. This month, they were held online.

Pre-lockdown: The Wollemi Artisan markets at the Cultural Centre. This month, they were held online.

At the last meeting, council endorsed an urgent motion to allow the Blue Mountains City of the Arts Trust to access funding to provide a quick response small grant program.

The new program will provide 10 grants of $2000, which will enable local artists to engage in web-based projects, research or studio works. It is designed to support the City's arts and creative sectors by providing financial assistance to Blue Mountains artists and arts organisations impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

Details about the grant program are available at: Applications close on Thursday, June 18.

Blue Mountains Mayor Mark Greenhill said he was pleased and proud that council's commitment to all parts of the city has not waivered.

"2020 has been an enormous year. We've been through things that would break many communities, and while it's not easy we are continuing to survive," he said.

"It seems like every second day I'm making statements about our community's strength and the need for us to work together. And there's nothing better for me than working with my colleagues at council to put that into action.

"Every person in our community matters and council is committed to doing whatever we can do provide support and assistance.

"The arts are often undervalued, but in the Blue Mountains we know how important the arts are, and how precious the people who work in these areas are," Cr Greenhill said.

Councillor Don McGregor, who moved the motion, said: "About 8 per cent of the Blue Mountains workforce are employed in arts, entertainment and creative jobs. That's more than double the national average.

"These people were some of the first to lose work due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and will be some of the last to get work back. And as sole traders and subcontractors, most cannot access the Jobkeeper or Jobseeker payments.

"These people aren't just abstract numbers, they're part of our community. They're our friends and neighbours, and many have families to care for.

"We need to and we must work together to support these artists, and keep the arts and culture alive in the Blue Mountains," Cr McGregor said.