COVID-19: Live sector lobbies ScoMo for ‘urgent stimulus support’
Australia’s live performance industry is calling on the government to provide an urgent stimulus plan in response to the global health crisis.
Thousands of jobs could be lost over the coming months if immediate action is not taken.
The economic stimulus package announced by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday will provide some welcome support for many small businesses in the music industry.
About 700,000 businesses will automatically receive payments of between $2,000 and $25,000 if they currently employ staff and have a turnover of up to $50 million.
That the cash boost will be assessed on a 50% share of a company’s PAYG contributions, with funds credited automatically from April 28 based on business activity statements.
Businesses that pay wages, but are not required to pay tax, are likely to receive $2,000. These measures are the largest part of the $17.6 billion package at an estimated cost of $6.7 billion.
The government says the package is “temporary, targetted and proportionate” and is designed to prop the economy up until the coronavirus crisis subsides.
Morrison has also pledged to significantly extend the instant asset write-off for companies with turnover of up to $500 million, and purchases of up to $150,000.
Australia’s live performance industry contributes more than A$2.5 billion to the country’s economy each year and employs over 34,000 people.
LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, has warned that many promoters don’t have the “balance sheet strength” to withstand a box office freeze caused by the COVID-19 virus.
“We’re already seeing cancellation of events and touring programs across the country. We expect this to get worse with industry losing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.”
With the live sector employing a high number of casuals, LPA is urging the Federal Government to consider a program similar to Rural Aid, which included social security payments in the event of a sector shut-down or significant loss of trade.
“Consideration should also be given to extending the wage subsidy of 50% for apprentices and trainees to artists, performers, creatives and technical crew who are employed by companies.
“We believe it’s possible to design measures that are targeted, scalable and temporary in terms of their budgetary impact, and which could be lifted once the current public health crisis is resolved.
“We also need to provide certainty for the ticket-buying public that while it’s ‘business as usual’ for now, when things change in the future, the government will be there to support the industry through disruption.”
— Jake Challenor (@soundslikejake) March 12, 2020
A number of promoters, who spoke to TMN on the condition of anonymity, said ticket sales had slowed considerably this week.
Bluesfest won’t be deterred by the spread of coronavirus, with the Byron Bay festival “going ahead as planned” in April.
Download, Anthems and Dark Mofo won’t proceed at all, with many other Aussie concerts and festivals adding to the developing ‘postponed’ list.