Australian government commits $250 million bailout package for music and arts
The Federal Government has finally paid up.
On Thursday morning, the Australian government announced a $250 million creative economy package for a music and arts sector which has been crushed by the health crisis.
News of the quarter-billion-dollar bailout ends months of negotiations between the music industry and the Canberra on a high note.
Earlier in June, Live Performance Australia and its industry partners, which include APRA and ARIA, presented government with a proposed “recovery and relief” package worth $345 million.
The JobMaker creative economy package announced today is almost $100 million off the mark, though its comes as welcome relief and has been warmly met by the music industry.
“The announcement by the Morrison Government comes at an urgent time not just for the music sector, but the broader creative economy,” comments Dean Ormston, CEO APRA AMCOS.
“Importantly the announcement reflects the recognition by the Morrison Government of the enormous contribution the arts, entertainment and creative industries contribute to the economy and our way of life,” he continued.
The sum sets aside $75 million of capital funding to help production and event businesses put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social-distancing restrictions ease, with grants of between $75,000 and $2 million made available.
Also, $90 million in concessional loans to be backed by government guarantee, along with $35 million in direct financial assistance to support Commonwealth-funded arts organisations.
“This is a vital injection of capital funding which will help live performance companies reopen and start to rebuild after the impact of the overnight loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue over the past three months,” says LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson.
JobMaker will go “a long way” in helping the Australian music industry recover, enthuses ARIA.
“Our industry is made up of incredible artists, and together with so many that work with them ‘behind the scenes’, they have been faced with unprecedented challenges over the recent months,” comments ARIA Chairman Denis Handlin.
“Today’s announcement is welcomed and it is much needed support for those who contribute so much to our country’s creative economy.”
ARIA today welcomes the announcement of the $250 million JobMaker package for the Australian arts and music industries. pic.twitter.com/6jgswALEGD— ARIA (@ARIA_Official) June 24, 2020
As the music industry digests the implications of the package, question marks linger. It remains unclear when restrictions will be lifted on the crippled live sector, which has been in lockdown since March.
“We remain deeply concerned about the 4,000-plus venues across Australia who present live music,” Ormston adds.
“They are now closed with no certainty as to when a restart is likely or viable.”
The opposition Labor Party welcomed the package and took the opportunity to have a dig at Scott Morrison’s administration for dragging their feet as the arts sector was slowly dying.
“It has been more than 100 days since Labor first called on the government to deliver a support package for the arts and entertainment sector,” comments Tony Burke MP, Shadow Minister For Industrial Relations and Shadow Minister For The Arts.”
For months, he continues, Morrison and his ministers “stubbornly insisted it wasn’t necessary – that somehow an industry that had been completely shut down by coronavirus restrictions didn’t need any extra assistance.
“This totally unnecessary delay has done enormous damage to this industry and its workers.”
Labor will continue to consult with venues on how just how the package works with them. “If venue don’t make it to the other side of this crisis,” notes Burke, “there will be no recovery.”
The support package follows the June 10 publication of an Open Letter on 10 June signed by over 1,200 artists, professionals, businesses in the music industry calling on government to provide a financial lifeline.
According to I Lost My Gig, more than $340 million has been lost due to postponements and cancellations of shows and gigs, a sum that will continue to grow the longer the lockdown continues.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.