Academics urge Australian government to provide $750million to live music industry

Over 100 signatures have been collected

More than 100 university academics and arts workers have signed an open letter calling on the Australian Government to provide dedicated support to the live performance sector, which has taken a significant financial hit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Published on the Australian Music Centre’s website, the letter is in support of a dedicated $750million relief package currently proposed on the I Lost My Gig website. I Lost My Gig is maintained by the Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festivals Association.

The letter was facilitated by the University of Technology Sydney lecturer Dr Felicity Wilcox and cites statistics from I Lost My Gig, which as of March 21 recorded $300million in lost income from cancelled events. It follows similar requests made by the National Association for the Visual Arts, Live Performance Australia and the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

Advertisement

“I’ve been a freelancer for 25 years, I’m an academic and I still rely on commissions to be a creator. From my position of privilege, I was wanting to give back to the community that has nurtured me. It’s my way to galvanise my community and myself to give back to the arts community which I owe my privilege essentially,” Wilcox told NME Australia.

With this package, all current funding arrangements with organisations would be extended, $25,000 grants would be available for venues and $20million would be distributed to mental health charity Support Act for hardship payments and crisis assistance.

“The Australian music, arts and live events industries have been among the first to feel the immediate impacts from the coronavirus pandemic; these industries are also the first to bring joy, music and art into the lives of Australians, and to give hope and a sense of community in times of crisis. It is time to give back,” the letter read.

In response to the crisis, the Australia Council for the Arts outlined the steps it will take to support the arts sector, including adjustments to its Four Year Funding scheme and assistance for First Nations artists. The City of Melbourne has also promised $2million worth of grants to sole traders and small arts organisations. However, Wilcox said it’s still not enough.

“Digital solutions and roundtables… that’s all really good, but we need something more like what we’re all asking for, which came from colleagues at the Australian Performing Rights Association,” she told NME Australia. “There’s not much money there, but I appreciate it is there.”

Advertisement

Wilcox also pointed to Arts Council England’s £160million response package, including £20million to creative practitioners and freelancers, as an example of what the Australian Government should be offering.

“[Arts Council England] is looking at the whole: individual artists, organisations and the national portfolio,” Wilcox said. “We need £20million to get people through. We’re looking at six months to a year of no work.”

Advertisement
Advertisement