ICYMI: The week’s top news in the arts

As arts organisations go online, a whole bunch of opportunities have opened up for artists - we give you the latest news on what's happening in the sector this week.

While the Australian arts sector has been vigilantly watching government roll outs, monitoring how individuals can take advantage, thieves in the Netherlands have used the distraction as an opportunity to steal a prized Vincent van Gogh painting: The Parsonage Garden at Nuenen in Spring (1884) from the Singer Laren museum while the institution was closed to the public.

And in America, actress Sharon Stone has painted her first ever painting while in lock down, posting on social media with the hashtag #SQ2020. Her quarantine advice: ‘You can do something you didn’t know you could do while you’re at home, not knowing what to do.” Hmmm…

These were our most read COVID-19 stories this week:

1. JobSeeker vs JobKeeper

2. How to apply for the Centrelink coronavirus supplement as a sole trader

3. Working from home tools for arts organisations

4. 8 ideas for artists homeschooling kids

5. Recovering from loss, pain and anxiety: The ArtsHubbub Podcast


MPavilion closes with over 149,300 visitors

MPavilion 2019, designed by Australia’s most celebrated architect Glenn Murcutt AO, closed on 18 March, four days earlier than expected. It was the program’s longest-running season, hosting 250+ free events, and 149,300+ visitors over 126 days, with the program collaborating with 500+ cultural institutions, architects, artists, musicians, dancers, choreographers, scientists, designers and festivals.

This week, MPavilion has released a podcast series in perfect timing as Australia goes into lockdown.

Artists raise $90K for UNICEF’s COVID-19 call

Artists have come together in support of UNICEF Australia’s COVID-19 response, with bids this week exceeding $90,000. Twenty-two Chinese & Australian artists are currently live in the ‘Love, Unmasked’ online auction, organised by Vermilion Art and Bridging Hope Charity Foundation, and with proceeds supporting UNICEF Australia’s COVID-19 response in the East Asia Pacific Region. Fifty per cent of proceeds from bids will go directly to UNICEF Australia.

Among the artists are Australians Caroline Rothwell and Tim Johnson, whose artworks are collected by the likes of Art Gallery NSW and the National Gallery of Australia, as well as renowned Chinese artist Li Jin, whose work can sell for up to $150k. Bidding closes this Saturday 4 April so be quick. Visit the auction link at Love, Unmasked.

Darebin Council pledges a massive $10 million recovery package

This week in a Special Council Meeting, Darebin Council (outside of Melbourne in VIC) launched a $10 million Community and Local Business Resilience and Recovery Package to help Darebin residents, ratepayers and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is a broad cross-sector package, it also targets support to small business – many of which arts organisations can apply for. Visit the Darebin City Council website for more information on the Resilience and Recovery Package, and the Financial Hardship Policy.

Industry unite to encourage support for Aussie content

Australia’s music and screen production industries announced this week, the start of the AUSSIE MADE campaign to help support the local music and screen industries while at the same time capturing the imagination of more Australians as they ‘self-isolate’ during the COVID-19 shutdown.

APRA AMCOS, ARIA and Screen Producers Australia (SPA) have united behind local artists, songwriters and production businesses.  ‘Broadcasters and digital platforms have a huge opportunity to build on Australia’s appetite for local content by exposing them to even more Australian music and screen content, ensuring that people can find it easily,’ said Dean Ormston, CEO APRA AMCOS.

People will be turning to their TVs, radios and digital devices to keep themselves entertained, informed and connected. ‘With everyone at home, now is the time for all Australians to get behind our local artists and screen professionals’ said Dan Rosen, CEO ARIA.


Know your rights – free webinar

Confused about the law and how it applies to your practice? This webinar series hosted by the Arts Law Centre of Australia, will help you know your rights, regardless of your chosen medium. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions from a lawyer who can point you in the right direction.

Use your time in isolation to upskill. Learn important business practices that will help you to build and maintain your arts practice. Check out the webinar:  Copyright: Making the most of what you make Creating art means creating copyright presented Visit the Arts Law Centre of Australia to register for the free Know Your Rights Webinar Series on 7th April.  

Rage Against The V(irus) Artist Fund

Designed for Gold Coast artists in recognition of the challenging time they are facing during the coronavirus outbreak, HOTA (Home of the Arts) has launched the initiative Rage Against the V(irus) offering up to $1000 cash to local artists for projects, designed to turn downtime into a spark for innovation, using digital technology as the medium.

Expressions of interest for the HOTA Artist Fund – Rage Against The V(irus) are open until 15 May, with all projects to be completed by Friday 29 May, 2020. Visit HOTA for more information on Rage Against the Vi(irus) 

Online Course: Writing Grant Proposals

Presented by Justine Yousseff for NAVA, this 7-week Online Course will help you seek and identify well-suited funding opportunities, research, plan and write stronger grant proposals.

‘Writing Grant Proposals’ is designed to help artists identify well-suited funding opportunities, research, plan and write stronger grant proposals. You will receive one-on-one feedback to assist you in developing clear writing skills for your artist biography and artist statement, and learning to make your professional CV and support material stand out from the rest.

Visit NAVA to sign up for the online course Writing Grant Proposals. Course dates: 5 May – 16 June 2020; with flexible hours. Enrolment closes: 27 April 2020.

Call for artists to submit to International Video Art Festival

The International Video Art Festival Now&After ’20 is calling for artists to submit work by 20 May, tapping into the topic ‘Possibility of Colour”.  Video artists from all over the world are invited to submit their works for the tenth edition of the Festival, which is held annually in Moscow, Russia.

International Video Art Festival Now&After is organised by independent nonprofit organisation Media Art Centre. There is no entry fee. Submitted videos must have been completed after January 1, 2017. Running time is up to 20 min. The results of the selection will be available after 15 July. For more information visit: Now & After International Video Art Festival

Award for art writers calling for submissions

The Walkley Foundation is currently calling for entries for its Mid-Year Celebration of Journalism, which includes two arts journalism categories with a $5000 prize for each, thanks to the support of the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund. The two categories are: The June Andrews Award for Arts Journalism which awards a $5000 prize for reporting, writing, news-breaking and analysis of arts issues. and  The Pascall Prize for Arts Criticism awards a $5000 prize for criticism.

‘Arts’ is interpreted broadly to include, for example: journalism and criticism covering radio and television, photography, architecture, film, food and wine as well as literature, visual arts and performing arts. Entries close midnight April 26.

New documentary series calling you

iwonder calls on Australians living through the COVID-19 pandemic to share their stories for a new user-generated documentary series ‘CORONAVIRUS & ME’. To submit an entry to iwonder visit: www.iwonder.com/submit  

Our feeds and news streams are overflowing with Coronavirus related updates, but what about ordinary people dealing with the upheaval in similar and different ways all across the country and overseas? What can we learn from each other as we each find our own way through this crisis? And how important is it to keep an intimate record of our experiences for future generations to reflect on and learn from?

Video submissions should be a maximum of 10 minutes in length, can be shot on any kind of camera but must be in 16 x 9 landscape format (if it’s on a phone, holding it sideways, not upright) and can be silent or have people speaking, but must include no music. For full details and terms & conditions visit www.iwonder.com/UGC-terms. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, with the deadline for the first episode set as Monday 6 April.

Call for Aboriginal artists

Frankston City Council is developing a Reconciliation Action Plan and it is looking for artworks to illustrate it. Expressions of Interest (EOI) are now open to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists within the local region to deliver artwork that reflects the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community and Frankston City Council’s commitment to the Reconciliation Action Plan.

The Council will purchase the artwork for a negotiated cost and the artist will retain moral rights and copyright of their artwork. If you are interested in developing artwork for the Reconciliation Action Plan document visit frankston.vic.gov.au.

Sydney Opera House Digital programming; courtesy SOH


To help us all to move into this new realm of creative digital program, ArtsHub’s Andrea Simpson is keeping a running State-by-State list of those fab new roll-outs that are leading this frontier. Be sure to bookmark her list to stay on top of new ways to engage. Among the big roll-outs this week were:

Sydney Opera House releases new digital initiative

The Sydney Opera House announced this week, a new digital initiative From our House to yours to continue to connect with audiences while its doors are closed. The program will include full-length performances and talks, never-before-seen footage, podcasts, long-form articles and behind-the-scenes content. Content will be available on demand.

Sydney Opera House CEO Louise Herron AM said: ‘While we cannot welcome audiences to live performances in our venues, we are committed to offering the best in arts, culture and entertainment, as we have since opening in 1973. The difference is that, while the doors are closed, we will be doing it online – from our House to yours.’

In addition, every day from Wednesday to Sunday new content will be released on the Sydney Opera House website for people to enjoy on their laptops, mobile phones or in their living rooms. The new digital season launched 1 April, with the next weekly schedule announced every Tuesday.

This week’s launch follows the Opera House’s exclusive broadcast event for Piano Day 2020, which took place last Saturday, watched by a global audience of 50,000. The broadcast featured at-home performances by Andrea Lam, Margaret Leng Tan and Simon Tedeschi, unreleased recordings of Jon Hopkins and Joep Beving, and interviews with composer and Piano Day-founder Nils Frahm and Opera House piano tuner Terry Harper.

The first week of the Digital Season includes:

  • Friday 3 April: Dance Rites 2019, Australia’s annual First Nations dance competition.
  • Saturday 4 April: Sydney Symphony Orchestra – Beethoven’s Ninth
  • Sunday 5 April: The Writers Room with Celia Pacquola, Josh Thomas, Luke McGregor and Dan Harmon discussing, How many great ideas does it take to crack primetime?

NGA kids online programming. Photo: Eugen Hyland

NGV launches dedicated online kids, family and learning resources

This week (31 March), the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) has launched dedicated online activities for children and families, and a suite of learning resources for students and teachers to utilise at home.

Resources include downloadable drawing activity sheets, e-books, interactive games, art education workshops, and free virtual excursions for schools, all available on the NGV’s website. The resources provide an opportunity to engage children and students in their active learning, development and play whilst at home.

Tony Ellwood AM, Director, National Gallery of Victoria said: ‘Our dedication to education has always been a core value for the NGV and this year we celebrate 70 years of our NGV Learning department. It is vital for children, students, families and teachers to have access to these resources, and we are deeply passionate about providing creative online experiences and services for our community especially at this time.’

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley added: ‘Each year more than 100,000 kids take part in the NGV’s education programs, and while the gallery is closed for now, it’s fantastic learning opportunities continue online for even more kids to engage with. I encourage families and teachers alike to explore these extraordinary resources which offer a world of creative learning experiences without leaving home.’   To check it out visit the National Gallery of Victoria in addition to the links below.

Each day is a different digital day for the Biennale

This week the Biennale of Sydney announced it was taking its 22nd edition online, with a series of activations and experiences. From Monday 6 April 2020, online programming linked to the seven themes that inspire the exhibition will be held daily over 10 weeks on the Biennale of Sydney’s website and social channels.

The Biennale remains artist-led, and the online NIRIN WIR program is a space for artists to lead the way in responding to the urgent social, political and environmental issues we are facing today. They will also be involved in social media takeovers, watch parties, and never-before-seen content on the Biennale’s IGTV channel. 

This platform will bring artworks from all six exhibition partners online for audiences to experience in compelling new ways including 360-degree tours, video walkthroughs and curated content.

On Tuesdays, teachers, students and families across the globe will be able to access a range of learning material about NIRIN – from environmental studies to Indigenous histories and cultures – through to interactive resources, podcasts, artist interviews, videos and tutorials. While on every Friday, Artistic Director Brook Andrew will connect with the global community of NIRIN artists and curators to give unique insights into the exhibition. Visit the Biennale of Sydney’s website to view the full program

AFTRS rolls out online digital courses

The AFTRS building might be closed but their new range of online courses is still dedicated to helping those with creative aspirations start and develop their careers from the comfort of their homes. Coming up next week is Presentation Skills with Tracey Spicer on 6 April. Other online classes include:

  • Podcasting Fundamentals with Madeleine Joannou
  • Screenwriting for Film with Anne Brooksbank
  • Mobile Content Creation with Gareth Tillson
  • Writing a TV Series with Susan Bower
  • Production Accounting Fundamentals with Jane Corden and Jill Hewitt
  • And for parents looking for something for their young housebound creatives to do, AFTRS also have Writing a Short Film: Grades 9-12

Visit AFTRS online to view their full program of online courses. 

Drawing project online

Drawing Breath is a creative learning approach developed by Art Gallery of WA that harnesses MINDFULNESS to enhance looking at, and responding to works of art. Visual Analysis is an important part of the Freighting Ideas concept to encourage us to look at an artwork and reflect, analyse, interpret and evaluate what we are seeing from our own personal perspective and viewpoint. 

The Drawing Breath journal (ACT,) uses Visual Analysis as an active way to engage with a creative activity that has a positive impact on mental health and well-being. Visit the Art Gallery of WA to view the Drawing Breath journal.  

Follow the prompts in the journal to respond to works of art. When your finished share (COMMIT) a video or photos of your creation with the ART ON THE MOVE community by tagging us on Instagram or Facebook and by using the hashtag #drawingbreath #artinw

Ghost Light Opera

Ghost Light Opera will celebrate Western Australian singers performing gorgeous arias spot lit on a darkened stage. The company is proud to enable performing opportunities for soprano Emma Matthews, mezzo soprano Fiona Campbell, tenor Paul O’Neill and baritone James Clayton. Accompanied by Tommaso Pollio, these singers will take to the stage to share the arias people know and love.

Carolyn Chard AM, Executive Director, West Australian Opera said ‘Ghost Light Opera will enable the experience of beautiful music to transcend from the stage of His Majesty’s Theatre and into your home wherever you are. A light – a ghost light – is left on the stage when the theatre is unoccupied and would otherwise be completely dark…West Australian Opera’s Ghost Light Opera will provide a platform for everyone to engage with the state opera company despite empty seats and closed venues.’

WAO release a Ghost Light Opera aria every Saturday at 7.30pm on their social media platforms.

Streaming online theatre

The Australian not-for-profit organisation dedicated to making theatre accessible to all, Australian Theatre Live, is launching their first online streaming festival this week. Each week ATL will be live-streaming a new play, from Australia’s renowned theatre companies and featuring some of our best-known writers, directors and actors.

Online audiences will be able to access great Australian theatre captured live onstage, including performances by Sydney Theatre Company, Griffith Theatre and on 10-11 April at 8pm, The Dapto Chaser. Broadcast through the Australian Theatre Live Facebook page, for FREE.
For more details  visit Australian National Theatre Live. 

Grant Dodwell, four-time Logie Award winner and the Creative Director of Australian Theatre Live said: ‘As a not-for-profit organisation with limited funding, we ask participants to follow, like and share our page with others who are missing theatre during these isolating times.’


Encounters 2020 tour suspended

The Australian National Maritime Museum announced this week that it has suspended the circumnavigation of Australia by the HMB Endeavour and the companion touring exhibition, Looking Back, Looking Forward – a project that has been four years in the making.

The Museum is currently considering options for other ways to mark the anniversary, including through its online program.

‘This decision was not taken lightly. After 4 years of planning, this is disappointing but it is necessary at this time. I trust the public will understand and hope they engage with our digital resources instead,’ Museum Director, Kevin Sumption said.


New commissions during dark days

The Australian Voices (TAV) have offered commissions to 21 composers, including 20 Australians. ‘At TAV we had raised a significant commissioning fund which we had been planning to roll out over the course of this year and next. In response to recent events we have decided to proceed immediately’ TAV said in a formal statement this week.

The theme is ‘far and near’. These compositions will be performed one day in the future, after the COVID-19 crisis has lifted.

‘We have assembled a brilliant horde of composers, across a spread of geography, gender and age. World-renowned composer Nico Muhly is among the batch, as are mightily-respected Australians Katie Noonan, Lisa Young, Joe Chindamo, Lyle Chan and a mini-bus worth of emerging voices,’ announced Artistic Director Gordon Hamilton.

‘We are very proud that TAV is able to give some financial commitment to musicians who are especially-hard hit by the current crisis enveloping the world and to face this moment head on.’

More news you may have missed.

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