November 22, 2021

How COVID decimated WA’s creative jobs, revenue [report]

How COVID decimated WA’s creative jobs, revenue [report]
Show time at Perth's RAC Arena

COVID’s impact on Western Australia’s creative sector was immediate and brutal, according to a new report from the WA Dept. of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries.

83% of its companies posted lower than expected earnings and suffered a 59% drop in jobs.

The survey covered the first three months (April 1 to June 30) after the music, arts and creative sectors had to slam their doors shut in 2020.

It covered 26 areas including music, performing arts venues, radio, film, TV, theatre, comedy, games and set, lighting and production design.

The 59% drop in employment (which included jobs retained through JobKeeper) was significantly marked in freelance work (down 78%) and casual jobs (75%).

But full and part-time jobs, respectively down 8% and 1%, were generally supported by COVID-19 support packages.

Music venues were second-highest where work was lost, at 91%. They were second to comedians whose job loss was at 96%.

The others listed were producers (81%), circus performers (70%) and theatre companies (61%).

In terms of revenue, musicians and composers faced a 92% drop in what they hoped to earn.

But even more, the worst hit were those in film/video post-production and animation productions (98% less), circus performers (98%) and dancers and choreographers (93%).

Most drew on personal savings to cover expenses due to lost income.

31% of unemployed persons, 26% of students and 20% of freelancers reported they borrowed funds from family and friends to survive.

Music venues and arena operations were second highest with the greatest shortfall in revenue after receiving COVID-19 support.

Film/video post-productions and animation productions topped the list (92%), with library/archive operations (81%) and dancesr/choreographers (81%).

61% of creative industry businesses received no COVID-19 support packages. Those that did, received $11,173 on average for the period, accounting for 39% of total revenue.

Access to support packages was highest among companies (58%) and not-for-profit organisations (52%), and lowest among freelancers (19%) and sole traders (38%).

Jobs for creative artists fell 77%. Those in arts venues were down 72% and those in performing arts companies slid by 60%.

Just how big is WA’s creative sector? A report in September 2021 by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre estimated it generated gross economic value of between $5.8 billion and $7.3 billion.

Its employment made up 2.5% of WA’s workers. Jobs grew by 27.8% between 2006 and 2016 (mostly as the sector shifted to digital) compared to overall jobs growth of 17.4%.

Zeroing in on the music industry, it’s worth nearly $1 billion with almost 3,000 full time jobs and accounting for wages of $149 million, according to 2016 research by music association WAM released research and conducted by Edith Cowan University.

See the full report here.