Kate Ceberano says a $27 million government funding boost for the arts is vital. Picture: Supplied
Kate Ceberano says a $27 million government funding boost for the arts is vital. Picture: Supplied

Cash splash ‘not enough’ to save arts industry from ruin

The Australian arts industry will receive $27 million of federal government assistance after being decimated by coronavirus.

$17 million will go to assist indigenous and regional arts, while charity Support Act will receive $10 million to fund their emergency work assisting to the live music industry whose work has dried up overnight.

Australian musician Kate Ceberano said the local industry has "fallen into a screaming dump" - including not just musicians but road crew, managers, promoters, venue staff and merchandise sellers.

Australian singer/songwriter Kate Ceberano says mental health is a major issue. Picture: Supplied
Australian singer/songwriter Kate Ceberano says mental health is a major issue. Picture: Supplied

Support Act will use the new funding to extend their mental health hotline for those in the arts industry who often fall between the cracks of job seeker and job keeper payments due to their status as casual or freelance workers.

"All of our work for the coming year has disappeared off the calendar," Ceberano said.

"It's pushed people into a very critical place. There's a lot of isolation in our industry anyway, we spent a lot of time alone on the road, so it was like pouring petrol on an already existing condition.

"And that means you have these tremendous highs and achingly deep lows, it's about trying to keep people going and giving them an idea they're valued so they can get through this period of time and get back into their professions."

Ceberano has been performing live on her Facebook page each Friday, requesting donations for musicians as well as Support Act.

Iva Davies of Australian band Icehouse has also seen touring, his main revenue stream, suddenly stop.

"I'm incredibly lucky, I'm fine, I have got nest eggs," Davies said.

"But some of the crew I work with are in a lot of trouble. They haven't got massive superannuation funds or investments or any safety net. They work from gig to gig. They need money immediately and it's going to take a few weeks before it flows through, and that seven or eight weeks will be incredibly difficult for a lot of musicians and crew.

Iva Davies of Icehouse at the Fire Fight Australia concert in February. Picture: Getty
Iva Davies of Icehouse at the Fire Fight Australia concert in February. Picture: Getty

"The knock on effect for the band and crew is extraordinary. You have managers, agent, musicians, promoters - they have their own employees, bookkeepers and accountants. There's a whole empire of people who hold up a show."

Support Act chairman Sally Howland said the charity had been inundated with requests for crisis assistance in the last few weeks.

"The organisation has been stretched to the absolute limit by these cries for help so today's announcement will be a game changer for the entire music community."

However Live Performance Australia's Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said while the $27 million was welcome, it would not be enough to save the industry, which generates from ruin.

"Our industry will need much, much more in the form of direct assistance from all levels of government if we are to have a live performance industry of any scale following the pandemic crisis," Richardson said.

 "Governments still haven't come to grips with the scale of the devastation that has been wreaked across our world class $4 billion live performance industry. We were the first impacted and will be the last to come out. We stand ready to work with government now and during the recovery. Additional targeted measures are urgently required and a 'Bounce back' plan is going to be vital. Much more must be done, and time is running out."

Originally published as Cash splash 'not enough' to save arts industry from ruin



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