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News February 17, 2021

Artists and industry lobby government to extend JobKeeper or rollout new relief measures

Senior Journalist, B2B
Artists and industry lobby government to extend JobKeeper or rollout new relief measures

The year 2020 is, thankfully, in the rearview mirror. But for thousands of music industry professionals whose livelihoods have been crushed by the pandemic, the months ahead aren’t any less stressful.

With JobKeeper all set to disappear, a coalition of music industry advocates and peak bodies have come together to pressure the federal government to extend handouts, or to replace it with a “relief package” that will ensure no musician, industry professional or crew member falls into the cracks.

An open letter is today presented to the power-brokers in Canberra, featuring signatures from more than 3,500 artists and industry personnel.

Courtney Barnett, Midnight Oil, Ocean Alley, Mo’ju, Kate Miller-Heidke, APRA AMCOS, ARIA, and Music Australia are just some of the artists and organisations who are calling on government to listen, and take action. 

JobKeeper is expected to end in March, and with a reduction in the coronavirus supplement for Jobseeker, “anxiety levels are rising noticeably,” wrote Support Act CEO Clive Miller in an email last week to the charity’s friends and supporters.

Australia’s trade bodies are all on the same page

Those comments are confirmed by bleak figures published today by APRA AMCOS, which shows that live music alone is operating at under
4 per cent of the level compared to the same time last year.

Since March 2020, no act has embarked on a national tour, no festival has run at full capacity, and the venues that are operating are doing so at an average of 30 per cent trading due to ongoing capacity regulations.

Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road, reads the open letter.

Extending financial support “doesn’t just make cultural sense,” the letter continues, “it makes economic sense.”

The arts and entertainment sector contributes around $15 billion per year in GDP, employing close to 200,000 highly-skilled Australians, the letter explains, and research has found that for every million dollars in revenue, arts and entertainment produce nine jobs while the construction industry only produces around one job.

Music professionals from all areas of the industry are encouraged to sign the open letter.

“We can’t afford to lose the skills and businesses of our industry,” the open letter continues. “The result for Australian music and live entertainment would be catastrophic.”

The grim outlook for Australia’s live sector has been a year in the making.

Data gleaned from “The Economic Cost of COVID-19 on Australia’s Live Entertainment Industry,” published in October 2020, reveals that the coronavirus will trigger a fall of 65% in the economic output of the industry, from $36.4 billion in 2019 to $12.8 billion in 2020, if tough restrictions on gatherings remain in place. 

Straight up, that’s $23.6 billion in lost economic output.

In other news, the team behind the “I Lost My Gig” content hub is capturing more data for its latest Jobkeeper related survey.

Respondents’ information is “crucial as it enables us to provide policymakers and governments with real figures, and real stories about the impact of COVID-19 on music and live performance, and the many thousands of people who work in these sectors,” reads a statement.

Click here to read the open letter to government.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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