Australia’s Government Unveils $250M Package to Restart Music and Arts Industries

Sydney Opera House
Pastor/Getty Images

Sydney Opera House

BRISBANE – Australia’s music community might just get a second life.

Following a drawn-out, frustrating period of negotiations, the federal government on Thursday (June 25) committed a A$250 million ($171 million) lifeline to the creative economy, which has been crushed by the pandemic.

The new recovery package will help “restart the creative economy, supporting actors, musos, roadies, backstage crew, front of house staff - all the people who make up Australia’s vibrant entertainment arts and screen sector,” explained arts minister Paul Fletcher.

Today's announcement is the culmination of numerous meetings between the nation’s music sector, through Live Performance Australia, ARIA, APRA and other advocates, and government.

At one stage, industry reps presented a A$650 million ($446 million) plan to ensure the survival of the music sector. A revised proposal worth A$345 million ($237 million) was resubmitted, and not accepted.

In recent days and weeks, industry figures were quietly fearing the worst, that those talks would come to nothing.

With today’s announcement, the worst-case scenario has been buried.

As the music and arts industries digest the details of the JobMaker package, figures from the creatives sector welcomed the development.

The package, explains APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston, “will provide a necessary and critical lifeline to many music businesses and organizations to ensure they can get through the next 12 months.”

In particular, the PRO and others applaud the $90 million pledged in concessional show starter loans, and the creation of $75 million seed investment to reactivate productions and tours, with funding slices ranging from $75,000 to $2 million. “This will be key to reviving live music events, concerts and festivals and getting musicians and songwriters to do what they do best,” Ormston continues.

A Creative Economy Taskforce has been established to guide the implementation of the funding programs.

The Federal Government’s package is “very welcomed and will go a long way to helping our industry navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis,” comments ARIA CEO Dan Rosen. “This is a crucial package for so many across our industry, and it is an acknowledgment of the importance of music to the community and wellbeing of all Australians.”

James Sutherland, chair of the recently-launched Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which is tasked with overseeing with the COVIDSafe reactivation of events across the country, said the Morrison government’s package was “a great start to getting the sector back on track.”

As social distancing restrictions begin to ease, the live industry is counting the cost of the protracted shutdown. The music community has been on life support since March 13, when nationwide lockdown measures were enforced.

It’s a heavy financial burden.

Postponements and cancelations have cost more than A$340 million in lost income, according to the I Lost My Gig tracking platform, and box-office losses are forecast to pass half a billion dollars over six months.

“Our industry was the first to be profoundly affected by the public health restrictions to combat COVID-19,” comments Live Performance Australia’s chief executive Evelyn Richardson, “and faces a longer road to recovery as restrictions are progressively lifted around the country.”

Canberra's package follows the publication of an Open Letter signed by more than 1,200 artists, music industry businesses and employees for a lifeline.

Going forward, LPA’s priority will be to get “our industry fully operational, our venues open and our people back to work,” Richardson continues. “We are very much looking forward to turning the lights back on and seeing our performers and artists back on stage and touring as soon as practicable.”

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