June 25, 2020

Music biz to share in ScoMo’s $250M rescue package for arts

Music biz to share in ScoMo’s $250M rescue package for arts

Last week’s Zoom between the PM, his lieutenants and the music biz has proven fruitful.

The live music sector is one of the winners in the Federal Government’s new $250 million Arts and Entertainment Package announced today.

Live music gets $75 million of capital funding to help production and event businesses put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease.

Grants of between $75,000 and $2 million are available from next month.

In addition, $90 million is put aside for “show starter” concessional loans to fund new productions and events that create jobs and stimulate economic activity.

Commonwealth-funded arts organisations get $25 million in funding to start operating again and the film and TV sector gets $50 million to assist local productions via Screen Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said guidelines for JobKeeper will also be expanded to the sectors after many of freelance and contract workers slipped through the cracks.

“These measures will support a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality,” Morrison 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.”

The live sector was on the PM’s mind when his office sent out invitations last Thursday (June 18) for a virtual meeting with the music industry.

The meeting was with Morrison, Arts Minister Paul Fletcher and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The 16 executive representatives in attendance included ARIA and APRA AMCOS as well as tour companies, promoters, music export, road crews and artists.

ARIA chief executive Dan Rosen believes the new package will help the music industry navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.

“This is a much-needed lifeline to the many artists, crew, workers and businesses across our sector. It is also an acknowledgment of the importance of music to the economy, communities and well-being of Australia,” Rosen said.

Guy Sebastian talking with the PM last Thursday.

The live sector stressed to the government its plans for when COVID-19 restrictions are eased.

These included funding for Australian acts to start touring again this year, the need to expand attendance numbers at music venues so they can start to be financially viable, and quarantine and visa help to make it easy for when overseas tours kickstart next year.

APRA AMCOS chief executive Dean Ormston applauded the package this morning, saying the package will provide a necessary and critical lifeline to many music businesses and organisations.

“It is also an important accompaniment to the Government’s previously announced $10 million funding of Support Act, Australia’s only charity delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers,” Ormston said.

“This will be key to reviving live music events, concerts and festivals and getting musicians and songwriters to do what they do best.”

APRA AMCOS will continue to call for a tax rebate for venues presenting live music.

Live Performance Australia’s CEO Evelyn Richardson also welcomed the package, saying its measures “reflect our industry’s unique characteristics and the challenges”.

“They also recognise the significant economic contribution that our commercial sector makes to Australia’s economic and cultural well-being,” Richardson said.

“They also recognise the significant economic contribution that our commercial sector makes to Australia’s economic and cultural well-being.

“Commercial production companies are among the biggest generators of employment and economic activity in the performing arts, and it is pleasing to see their contribution and needs have been addressed in this package.”

Richardson also emphasised the need for wider support from JobKeeper.

“COVID-19 has caused significant damage and disruption for our industry: performing arts companies and venues closed overnight; performers, production and technical staff and crews were without work or stood down; and companies and organisations were left with no alternative sources of revenue.

“JobKeeper has been an important support for those who have been able to access it. However, many in our industry have suffered devastating income losses, along with the many businesses which rely on our industry, including across the tourism and hospitality sector.”