The outbreak of the coronavirus disease-2019 (“COVID-19”) since February has gravely impacted arts practitioners and organisations as their work has been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. To relieve the financial burdens faced by the arts sector, the Anti-epidemic Fund set up by the HKSAR Government provided a funding of $50 million in February through the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) to Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) to launch the “Support Scheme for Arts & Cultural Sector”. The Scheme aims to assist the sector during this difficult period. HKADC started to accept applications on March 20 and there is no deadline for application at the moment until full disbursement of the HAB’s funding or further notice.
In view of the ongoing global spread of the virus, HAB and HKADC have reviewed the current situation and anticipated that the arts sector will still be affected in the coming few months. It is decided that the Support Scheme for Arts & Cultural Sector will extend its coverage period by two additional months, with the original period of 29 January to 30 April 2020 extended to 30 June 2020. The extension aims to provide timely support for HKADC-funded arts organisations and practitioners, non-HKADC funded arts projects, and individual arts practitioners. The original categories of subsidy recipient as well as funding amounts remain unchanged. Applications for all categories have to be submitted (Category A $50,000; Category B $15,000; Category C $15,000, and Category D $7,500). Arts organisations/individual practitioners that already received the maximum subsidy amount may not apply again. In addition, HKADC will make direct disbursements to funded projects in Category B that will be affected in May and June.
In addition, HKADC will expand the scope of subsidy recipients under Category D to support individual arts practitioners who participate in school performance tours and were affected by the epidemic from 19 January to 30 June 2020. Subsidy applications are now open to individual arts practitioners that were commissioned/engaged by Government Bureaux/ Departments (other than Leisure and Cultural Services Department) and/or Advisory and Statutory Bodies (such as Action Committee Against Narcotics, ICAC Corruption Prevention Advisory Committee, and Standing Committee on Language Education and Research) to conduct school tours (including kindergartens, primary and secondary schools, tertiary institutions, and special schools). The maximum subsidy is $7,500 per person. The current application method and fund payment procedure apply, and the maximum subsidy amount available for each eligible individual arts practitioner remains unchanged. Individual arts practitioners who already received the maximum subsidy amount cannot apply again.
For the four Artspaces operated by HKADC including Genesis at Wong Chuk Hang, Po Shau Centre and Pan Asia Centre at Kwun Tong, and Tai Po Arts Centre, the monthly rent for tenants will be reduced by 75% for five months under the Scheme. The arrangement aims to further support the tenants during this challenging period.
Updated details on application and application form for the new initiative are already uploaded to the HKADC website (http://www.hkadc.org.hk/SupportScheme).