SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14:  A model walks the runway during the Mercedes-Benz Presents Dion Lee show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Resort 18 Collections at the Sydney Opera House on May 14, 2017 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

SYDNEY — Australian designers will be eligible to apply for Australian federal government funding to help cover their 2021 show costs at Australian Fashion Week, IMG said Monday.

This year’s event, which is due to run from May 31 to June 4 at Sydney’s Carriageworks venue, has been approved for the federal government’s 50 million Australian dollar, or $38 million at current exchange, Business Events Grants program, which was unveiled in September to assist the country’s 36 billion Australian dollar, or $28 billion, business events sector get back on its feet after the coronavirus crisis. According to Federal Tourism Minister Simon Birmingham, around 95 percent of Australia’s 2020 business events were either canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.

Under the program, Australian companies exhibiting at an approved business event in 2021 can apply for upfront grants of 10,000 to 250,000 Australian dollars, or $7,760 to $193,992, to cover up to 50 percent of eligible expenditures.

The initiative — one tranche of the Australian federal government’s total 507 billion Australian dollar, or $393 billion, stimulus package revealed since the outbreak of the pandemic — is part of the 1 billion Australian dollar COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Fund, which is supporting regions, communities and industry sectors severely affected by the crisis.

Grant applications are now open, with applications due to close at 5 p.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time on March 30, or earlier if funding is exhausted.

The funding news will be an additional sweetener for designers considering taking part in this year’s event, which has been rebranded as Afterpay Australian Fashion Week, after the Australian buy now, pay later start-up recently took over from longtime naming rights sponsor Mercedes-Benz.

IMG had previously said it would waive all participation fees for designers at the event, which was canceled last year due to COVID-19. The fees being waived cover runway venue and showroom use, digital content packages, livestreaming, access to Launchmetrics’ event management tools and production meetings with technical staff and showroom managers.

“IMG is dedicated to supporting Australian designers and the broader fashion industry through AAFW,” said Natalie Xenita, executive director of IMG’s fashion events group, Asia Pacific region. “Securing coverage of AAFW under the Business Events Grants program is another way we are working to ensure that our event continues to be accessible for designers, whose businesses have been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Although the event’s preliminary schedule is not due to be unveiled for another two months, IMG has already revealed several see-now-buy-now shows that will be part of the event’s ticketed, integrated consumer program AAFW: The Experience, including Bassike, Manning Cartell and KitX.

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