This article was first published in Limelight‘s December 2020issue.

In June, three months after live performance venues and galleries were forced to close due to the coronavirus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to the stage at Rooty Hill’s new Sydney Coliseum Theatre to announce a $250 million rescue package of grants and loans for the beleaguered arts industry, which had been decimated by the pandemic.

As if to distance himself from any kind of ‘arty-farty’ alignment, the Prime Minister said: “This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions.”

One of the ghost lights installed by the Sydney Opera House in each of its theatres during COVID-19 One of the ghost lights installed by the Sydney Opera House in each of its theatres during COVID-19. Photograph © Daniel Boud

The package included $75 million of capital funding to help production and event businesses put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease; $90 million in “show starter” concessional loans to fund new productions and events,...