News August 16, 2021

‘The industry is eating into itself’: Alex Lahey pens open letter calling for more Government support

‘The industry is eating into itself’: Alex Lahey pens open letter calling for more Government support

Alex Lahey has penned an open letter to the Federal Government calling for an insurance scheme and wage subsidies program to assist in the recovery of Australia’s entertainment industry. In it, Lahey warns Australia is at risk of losing a generation’s worth of live performance talent and crew.

The letter is addressed directly to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and questions Government’s roadmap for providing support to the sector, addressing the ineffective distribution of RISE grants and noting the lack of financial support schemes like Job Keeper or Job Seeker for arts workers in 2021.

“I have watched and listened to my friends, colleagues and peers cry in the face of the adversity and uncertainty they’ve faced for over a year,” the letter reads.

“I have seen some of the most talented individuals turn their backs on what were once-promising careers as performers, venue workers and crew. But despite the turmoil we face as a collective and as individuals within our industry, Federal Government promises continue to be broken and schemes have been left behind.”

Lahey also noted that the entertainment sector would remain in limbo without the introduction of a Government-led insurance scheme, and that a wage subsidy for musicians, crew and industry workers was essential to secure a future for the country’s arts industry.

“Without funds getting directly to the artists, performers and crew members throughout this crisis, the industry is eating into itself, running the risk of leaving our country void of a generation’s worth of live performance talent and crew,” Lahey writes.

As a sector made up of a rich tapestry of small businesses (all of whom pay copious amounts of tax every single financial year, might I add), we need our confidence restored. We need to know that our businesses and livelihoods are directly supported by our Federal Government to take commercial risks in order to stay afloat, even in the face of increasingly unpredictable Delta variant shutdowns.

“There need to be structures in place that ensure prompt and direct reparative financial support for business and individuals in the event that gigs, tours or festivals cannot move forward due to outbreaks.

“Further to this, a wage subsidy system will allow for workers and performers to make ends meet during inevitable capacity restrictions as we emerge from lockdowns. This system will keep venues alive; it will keep performers on stage, it will keep crews in jobs – and most importantly, it will keep our rich, vibrant and unique performance culture flowing through the veins of our country.”

Lahey’s open letter is the latest of many recent statements from industry figures calling for increased Government support for the arts and entertainment sector.

Last week, a group of arts advocates released an open letter calling for the Federal Government to introduce a stand-alone minister for the arts and creative industries and more concrete timelines for the revival of the sector.

Read Alex Lahey’s open letter in its entirety here.

Related articles