Media releases

Cash grants to help revitalise Sydney post-Covid

Published 4 November 2020

The City of Sydney and NSW Government are offering $4.3 million in new grants to help businesses, cultural organisations, community groups and the entertainment industry breathe life back into the city centre.

The new grants will boost the city centre economy, support businesses and create jobs across the vital summer period and into 2021.

On signing the $20 million Al Fresco City agreement, Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the City and State Government initiative will help revive the economy, draw more people into the city and give much-needed funding to a range of businesses and community groups.

"We need to allow and encourage businesses to operate outdoors, and we need to support our creative and cultural life to activate and draw people back to our city, safely. We want to ensure our city businesses survive in the short term and create new opportunities for them to thrive in the long term,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“These grants will help facilitate safe cultural and live music performances and help businesses and venues to reopen and operate in the post-pandemic economy.

“I encourage anyone who works in the city – from businesses and retailers, to hospitality and community services – to consider applying for a grant to help kick-start their operations, re-engage staff and bring people back into our city.”

Prospective applicants can join a public webinar on Thursday 12 November to learn more about the programs and ask questions.

The three new recovery grants programs are:

CBD activation grant

Businesses and creatives are encouraged to collaborate on innovative ways to activate indoor and outdoor spaces to attract visitors to spend more time in the Sydney CBD, Haymarket, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and The Rocks.

The grant is designed to support creative activations within shops, retail centres and venues, as well as footpaths and public spaces in close proximity to businesses.

There are opportunities for CBD-based activations by businesses in events, arts and culture, entertainment, tourism and accommodation, retail and hospitality sectors. Activations may include pop up events, installations, exhibitions, DJs, live music performances, fashion shows, designer talks, artistic performances and roving entertainment.

Applicants can apply for cash grants of up to $50,000.

Cultural sector innovation grant

Small-to-medium cultural and creative organisations, businesses and sole traders can apply for funding to pilot new operational models, transform program or project delivery, collaborate and initiate innovative projects.
The program supports cultural organisations to adapt and grow and prioritises innovations to ongoing operations and services.

Applicants can apply for cash grants of up to $20,000.

Community services grant

Funding has been established to respond to the ongoing needs of the community.

The program prioritises applications that address community needs including food security, digital inclusion, social isolation and tenancy support, and supports vulnerable community groups including temporary visa holders, social housing residents and people at risk of or experiencing homelessness.

Applicants can apply for cash grants of up to $50,000. Projects that involve multiple organisations partnering to achieve a shared goal may be eligible to apply for more than $50,000.

The Covid recovery grants program builds on the $72.5 million support package released by the City in April for small businesses, artists and others in the creative and community sectors left devastated by the loss of work due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Applications for the grants open on 28 October and close at 5pm on Monday 7 December.

Projects can commence from 1 March 2021 onwards.

The City and State Government agreement also includes direct funding and programming of music and performance in public places, venues, bars and restaurants; funding and regulatory reform to enable increased uptake of outdoor dining and later opening hours of cultural institutions; and work with Destination NSW to promote Sydney to local and interstate visitors.

In addition to the recovery grants, the City is calling for artists to create temporary public artworks in particular Sydney centre laneways to help bring Sydneysiders back to the city.

Creative thinkers, artists and multidisciplinary teams with a strong interest in sustainability, communities and urbanism are encouraged to apply. Applications open today and close at 10am on Monday 16 November. For more details go to

The $20 million agreement will also cut red tape for businesses seeking to apply for outdoor dining, launch a roving musical performers program and expand the City’s popular Chairs in Squares program.

A team of City staff will be appointed to process outdoor dining applications quickly and determine opportunities where road space and footways can be reallocated for chairs and tables.

The City is working with state government to ensure pubs, small bars and take-away venues with no indoor dining will also be eligible for the outdoor dining program.

Applications will be open from December with businesses encouraged to extend their dining onto footpaths and parking spaces, where possible.

From November 24, roving musical performers will become staple features throughout the CBD during the weeks, with an updated program kicking on in the New Year.

The City will also increase the amount of outdoor seating in plazas and squares to allow more opportunities for outdoor dining and social activities.

The City’s popular Chairs in Squares program, which sees chairs and tables conveniently located throughout Martin Place over summer, will be expanded throughout the CBD and Surry Hills.

For more information on our grants and sponsorships see or email or call 02 9265 9333.

For media enquiries or images, contact James Gorman. Phone 0448 005 718 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Paul Mackay. Phone 0436 816 604 or email