New figures show arts and recreation businesses hit the hardest during coronavirus pandemic

Industry groups are still calling out for a lifeline

The Australian Bureau of Statistics released new figures yesterday (April 7) highlighting how damaging the coronavirus pandemic has been for arts and recreation businesses across the country.

In the week commencing March 30, only 47 per cent of businesses in the arts and recreation industry reported that they were operating. Of the businesses that said they weren’t trading, regardless of industry, more than two-thirds said it was due to the coronavirus pandemic. The statistics can be found here.

The arts and recreation services category had the lowest percentage of operation among the industries surveyed, with information media and telecommunications following behind at 65 per cent. According to the ABS, arts and recreation services is a broad category including musicians, performing arts venues, theatres, concert halls, artists, museums and galleries.

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This decline in business hasn’t gone unnoticed by arts and music advocacy groups. The Australian Music Industry Network, which encompasses Music Victoria, MusicNSW and other state and territory music bodies, is collecting information on how the pandemic has affected live music venues in an online survey. The first report from the survey data will be presented after April 10.

Yesterday, artists and musicians contributed to the #CreateAustraliasFuture campaign online, calling for greater financial support from the government. Notable voices included RocKwiz host Julia Zemiro and writer Benjamin Law.

Workers and businesses that have lost income are currently determining whether they’re eligible for the newly-established JobKeeper support scheme. Many arts and entertainment workers, however, are finding they aren’t covered by the criteria due to the complexity of the industry’s operations.

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According to the Bureau of Communications and Arts Research, the arts industry contributed $111.7billion to the Australian economy, or 6.7 per cent of the nation’s gross domestic product, in 2016-2017.

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