News February 22, 2021

Live Performance Australia warns of mass job cuts if JobKeeper isn’t extended

Live Performance Australia warns of mass job cuts if JobKeeper isn’t extended

Live Performance Australia (LPA) has joined other arts organisations in calling on the Morrison Government to extend JobKeeper for the sector, or provide other tailored industry support.

According to the industry body, 90% of live entertainment companies are still receiving JobKeeper in the first quarter of 2021. However, snap lockdowns and state and national border closures continue to prevent the industry from returning to its full capacity.

LPA warned that without wage subsidies beyond March 28 – the current end date for JobKeeper – a third of companies will make staff redundant, a fifth will continue to keep staff stood down and just over one in 10 will wind up their business altogether.

LPA chief Evelyn Richardson said the pandemic has led to $24 billion in lost economic output and 79,000 job losses in the sector, many of which will not recover by the end of next month.

“The industry has been working hard to get our people back to work, on stage and touring. Australia has made great progress in fighting the virus and we are now slowly reopening businesses, venues and live events. JobKeeper, the Creative Economy package and state-based government support have been critical in keeping companies alive and people in jobs,” she said.

“While across the economy, the [Australian Taxation Office] reports that 90% of the 1.3 million jobs lost have been replaced, our industry is not in those figures. Live entertainment remains largely at a standstill. We’re slowly getting shows back but under heavy restrictions and current business activity is not sustainable. The looming end of JobKeeper will see significant job losses and an unprecedented down-sizing of the industry. The impact of that on our cities and regional communities will be profound.”

Richardson predicts that venues will not be operating at full capacity, and therefore profitably, within the next six to nine months at least.

“We face major challenges in fully reactivating and a return to business normality remains a long way off. For our industry to operate profitably we need our venues operating at full capacity, unrestricted interstate movement, and open international borders without extensive quarantine,” she said.

“Since November last year we have had every major musical, theatre production and arts festival shut down or significantly disrupted due to a snap lock down and border closures – this has happened in Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne. The financial costs and damage to consumer confidence across the country is enormous. We are also very concerned about the growing loss of skills as we stare at the reality of treading water until early 2022.

“If we are to play our part in Australia’s economic and social recovery, we need targeted government support to save jobs and companies beyond March. Our survival depends on it.”

The statement comes days after a survey from I Lost My Gig found more than half of Victorian respondents were considering leaving the music industry in light of the pandemic’s effect on the state. Last week also saw a coordinated open letter with more than 3,500 signatures from industry professionals requesting additional support. APRA AMCOS pushed for an extension to JobKeeper back in January.

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