COVID-19 support for the arts community: FAQs

This page directs you to financial and other support available to individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. This wide-ranging info could be of value to many – individual artists, arts organisations, employees, friends and whānau.

Last updated: 17 March 2022

1. Where do I start?

Government support is available for urgent personal financial need

If you have an urgent personal financial need, anyone struggling to meet essential costs such as rent, heating, and food may meet the new income limits (from 1 November) for hardship support from Work and Income. Find out about help with urgent costs on the Work and Income website. Kaua e whakamā  don’t be shy to apply – the support is here for those who need it. 

1.1 Financial and other support on the Work and Income website

1.2 Wider government support is listed on the Unite against COVID website

2. What COVID-19 support is available to the arts sector?

On 2 February, the Government announced the COVID-19 Omicron Relief Funding. This includes top-ups for existing support outlined below and delivered by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. It also includes new, one-off grants for eligible self-employed/sole traders in the arts and cultural sector who have lost income or opportunities to work as a result of the restrictions introduced in January to slow the spread of COVID-19. These grants will be available through Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage, who expect to be inviting applications by the end of February 2022.

We’ve outlined below some support that's specific to the arts sector (other than Creative New Zealand funding opportunities).

2.1 Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund

The Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund is a $5 million ‘fund of last resort’ which provides support for organisations, including sole traders, at risk of no longer operating viably by meeting the shortfall between income and expenses over a six-week period.   

Find out more about the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund on the Manatū Taonga Ministry of Culture and Heritage website.

2.2 Support for large-scale events

If you’ve got an event planned, find out about registering for support in case it’s affected by COVID:   

  • 100 to 5,000 attendees: Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage is administering the Arts and Culture Event Support Scheme. It’s designed to provides cover for event organisers to be able to recoup the non-recoverable losses of an event that is unable to be delivered at the scheduled time and location due to the event location being at ‘Red’ in the COVID-19 Protection Framework or under a government mandated local lockdown.  

  • 5,000+ attendees: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is administering the Events Transition Support Payment scheme. It’s designed to provide assurance to organisers of large-scale events.

2.3 MIQ spots for Cultural sector

To support the Cultural sector, Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage is sponsoring up to 20 Managed Isolation Quarantine (MIQ) rooms each month.
You can apply if you’re:   

  • coming to New Zealand to work on a significant cultural activity or performance, or 

  • are a New Zealand Resident or Citizen coming back from doing so overseas. 

An MIQ room can fit two adults and two children. Children over 12 are counted as an adult.

For all information, go to on the Manatū Taonga website.

3. What specific COVID-19 related financial support is available?

3.1 Support for loss of income due to COVID-19 restrictions

The Government has two different support schemes available.

NOTE: You can apply for either the first COVID-19 Support Payment (from Inland Revenue) or the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund: Grant for Self-Employed Individuals (from Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage). You can’t apply for both.

It’s important you make a choice and apply for the option that best suits your needs. Making an incorrect declaration can negatively impact your eligibility to receive these grants and future funding applications, and may result in enforcement action. Please carefully read and understand the declaration before you submit your application.

You can see a comparison of the two schemes on the Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage website.

You can apply for the second and third COVID-19 Support Payments, as well as the Cultural Sector Emergency Relief Fund: Grant for Self-Employed Individuals. This is noted on the COVID-19 Support Payment (CSP) page of the Inland Revenue website.

You can read about this and wider business support on the Unite against COVID website

3.2 Support to help pay employees (including yourself if you're self-employed)

If you employ people or are self-employed, you may qualify for the COVID Support Payment – see question 3.1.

There are also the Short-term Absence Payment and Leave Support Scheme to help you pay the wages or salaries of people who can’t come to work or work from home.

Read more on the Work and Income website about: 

  • Short Term Absence Payment if your employee can’t work while waiting for a COVID-19 test result (for themselves or someone in their household). 
  • Leave Support Scheme if your employee is self-isolating and can’t work at home (including if your employee’s household includes anyone who is self-isolating or in a high-risk group).

3.3 If you need help with cash flow

Small Business Cash Flow Loan Scheme 

You may be interested in the Government’s Small Business Cash Flow Loan through Inland Revenue. Under this scheme, eligible organisations and small businesses, including contractors, sole traders and the self-employed, may be eligible for a one-off loan if they have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Find out more on the Inland Revenue website

3.4 Get a free ‘New Zealand Business Number’ to speed things up

Getting an NZBN can speed up interactions with government agencies 

A New Zealand Business Number (NZBN) is a globally unique identifier, available to every Kiwi business. If you’re self-employed (a sole trader), a partnership or trust, and you're currently in business in New Zealand, you're eligible to apply for an NZBN. Companies and other organisations have been automatically assigned an NZBN so you may already have one.  

You’ll need one if you’re applying for a Resurgence Support Payment – it’s optional when you apply for a Wage Subsidy. It’s something your business may be able to use in the future too, especially if you’re working with or for government agencies. 

There’s no cost to applying – you do it online and the turnaround is pretty quick – find out more at

4. What other support is available?

4.1 Ongoing financial and other support

We’ve listed several other sources of funding and support on our website.  

Tools and information on the government’s website include: 

If you’re looking for ideas to help you operate or develop your business, the Digital Boost series of free, 3-5 minute long video tutorials. For example, how to build a digital resilient business that thrives under any circumstance. 

On the all-of-Government Connected website, find business support for education, training and employment.  

CommunityNet Aotearoa is an online hub where you can find and share resources designed to strengthen organisations working with New Zealand communities. This includes COVID information and resources. 

Ākina offers a range of tailored consulting and business development services designed to help businesses, and social and community enterprises make change for the better. 

Business Mentors New Zealand is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the delivery of business mentoring services. 

Look into free Rebel Business School Courses – there are upcoming courses supported by Wellington City Council and you can also register your interest in having a course run in your region.