Over 100 academics from across Australia, with a background in the arts as practitioners and educators, have written an open letter to the Federal Government, urging it to “take urgent action to mitigate the direct negative impacts the arts sector is experiencing as a result of its necessary and important response to the COVID-19 crisis”.
The letter has been made available to the public via the Australian Music Centre website.
Referring to the statistics being charted on the I Lost My Gig website, the letter cites the loss of over $280 million of lost income for creative industry businesses and workers in the week between March 14 and 21. “This represents 255,000 gig/event cancellations, impacting 500,000 people: just a fraction of the domino impact of COVID-19,” says the letter.
The situation has only got worse since then with the figures on I Lost My Gig now totalling $300 million in lost income, from the cancellation of 274,000 events, affecting 599,000 people.
The academics are requesting $750 million to support the arts industry, referring to an existing Live Performance Industry Package proposal.
“Significant and immediate support is now needed to protect the livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of artists, managers, agents, crews, venues, contract and casual workers that rely on these industries,” says the letter.
“Australia’s cultural future is now as much at stake as the livelihoods of its artists and musicians. The Australian music, arts and live events industries have been among the first to feel the immediate impacts from the Coronavirus pandemic; these industries are also the first to bring joy, music and art into the lives of Australians, and to give hope and a sense of community in times of crisis. It is time to give back.”
The letter follows similar requests for urgent government support for the arts by organisations including NAVA, and Live Performance Australia which, in association with the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance, has called for an additional $650 million.
In a statement issued on Sunday March 22, following the announcement of the Morrison Government’s $66 billion COVID-19 rescue package, LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson welcomed the second economic stimulus package, but said that the arts industry needs additional support.
“The shutdown of events and venues in response to coronavirus has already cost our industry thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income, said Richardson in a statement.
“Australians who work in live performance or who rely on the industry for their livelihood have been the first to be hit by the coronavirus economic tidal wave and they will be the last to recover.”
“We expect that people and businesses who operate in our industry, including our large casual workforce and sole traders, will be able to access some of the help that has been announced today, including faster access to income support payments.”
“However, many of our performing arts companies and businesses have seen their entire revenue evaporate overnight. The small business package measures announced today, while welcome, will not make a material difference to 80 percent of our companies.”
“These are businesses whose entire revenue has fallen off a cliff. Without immediate support, they won’t survive.”