‘We are an industry in crisis’: Over 3,500 performers and music execs send open letter to Federal Government about end of JobKeeper
A collective of music industry artists, workers, venues and businesses have come together to urge the Australian Government to establish an industry rescue program to fill the void which will be left when the JobKeeper wage subsidy program ends on March 28.
The group, including artists as well as the Live Entertainment Industry Forum, ARIA, the Australian Live Music Business Council, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and Support Act, said the constant wave of lockdowns, state border closures and audience limitations have made it impossible for the music and live entertainment industry to properly restart.
The letter comes off the back of new analysis which shows live music is operating at under 4% of its pre-COVID levels.
“Each time there is another COVID-19 cluster or a quarantine breach, any plans to trade again are halted. Musicians, sole traders, venues, clubs, festivals, music businesses and the industry remain out of work. Billions of dollars for hospitality and tourism generated from Australian music remains stifled. We are an industry in crisis,” the letter said.
The signatories of the letter acknowledged Australia’s relatively privileged global position when it comes to how it’s tracking in the pandemic, but said the cycle of lockdowns and border closures necessitated further economic support.
The collective noted that since March last year, there has not been a single national tour by an Australian artists, nor has there been a full-capacity festival. In addition, night clubs remain closed and venues are restricted by social distancing requirements.
The solution, they said, to balance both the rules required to contain the pandemic and keep the sector alive, is to provide economic support.
“Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road,” the letter said. “This doesn’t just make cultural sense, 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. Australia Institute research has found that for every million dollars in turnover, arts and entertainment produce nine jobs while the construction industry only produces around one job.”
The intricate network that supports festivals, gigs and events includes “an army of musicians, agents, promoters, crew, technicians, music teachers and many other industry professionals”, the letter reminded the Government.
“We can’t afford to lose the skills and businesses of our industry. The result for Australian music and live entertainment would be catastrophic.”