A new $250 million Federal government support package for the arts sector could help get big Sydney performing arts companies back in Tamworth as early as September.
Tamworth has already missed out on visits by Sydney Symphony Company, originally scheduled to come next month.
But Tamworth Regional Council Entertainment Venues Manager Peter Ross said today's announcement of Commonwealth funding would bring their return closer.
"They're like large warships - they're hard to turn and find a new date in the calendar ahead," he said.
He welcomed the announcement.
"It creates a lifeline for national producing companies like Opera Australia, Bell Shakespeare, Sydney Theatre Company, Sydney Symphony," he said.
"It means that they'll live to see another day and create work and ultimately tour to us."
But Executive Director of Arts Northwest Caroline Downer described the quarter-of-a-billion dollar funding announcement as "a good start".
She said many thousands of performing artists were going to be hit by a huge pay cut at the end of September if JobKeeper is cut back to the old Newstart rate of $40 a day.
They won't directly receive a dollar through today's package, which will fund $75 million in grants and $35 million in direct aid for arts businesses, loan $90 million to new productions, and give $50 million to film and TV producers to restart filming.
She said nobody knows if the money will be enough to tide over to the end of the pandemic.
"We don't know how long this is all going to last and we don't know what [the sector is] going to look like post-COVID," she said
"I'm not sure how we can ever go back to what it was before.
"The sector has been advocating for proper funding for the arts and creative sector since March. So it really is good news that we're getting this.
"To me it's also a little bit of mixed messages. We're getting all that information about the way they're restructuring university funding and really the devaluing of a humanities degree."
Together with budget cuts to the ABC, she said the support was "part of a larger picture".
There's another speedbump to the return of usual programming at Tamworth's arts institutions.
TRC Manager Peter Ross said reopening Tamworth's Capital Theatre won't be viable until social distancing rules restricting the number of punters to one per four metres are completely lifted.
"We really need to be at that 100 per cent capacity in order to meet budgets."
But he said they were "crossing their fingers" that the restrictions would be lifted "very soon".
Magic Beach, the first event scheduled to reopen, would start at the theatre on August 31.