APRA AMCOS chair and award-winning musician Jenny Morris has called for greater support for Australia’s arts sector amid the coronavirus pandemic in an op-ed published in The Australian today (May 12).
Morris explained how artists are often relied upon for support in times of crises, such as during the recent bushfires, but will likely be out of a job longer than most Australians.
“Artists and musicians are always the first to put their hands up to help when others are in need. When funds must be raised, especially on a large scale, they don’t hesitate,” Morris said.
“The very real risk is that these people will be out of work longer than any industry in the country…but so many who work contract to contract, and businesses that operate seasonally, are falling through the cracks.”
As The Guardian Australia recently highlighted, many musicians have been performing in coronavirus-related fundraisers for free, citing a live-stream hosted by Ticketmaster as a recent example.
Morris used the metaphor of a ‘relief concert’ to illustrate how the government can reciprocate the support artists always offer.
“Australia’s musicians need their own benefit concert, perhaps led by Scott Morrison baring his tonsils and Josh Frydenberg on guitar,” she said.
“We need the Treasury rhythm section laying down a filthy groove and the Australian Taxation Office commissioners harmonising from the riser. Someone needs to start giving back to the industry that gives so much.”
Jenny Morris echoes concerns voiced by Adrian Collette, CEO of The Australia Council, in a radio interview last week.
“We were amongst the first in and will almost by definition be the last out, but we’re also such an economic and social driver,” Collette said.
“The longer the social distancing goes, the more critical – and we’ve some examples of it – the cash flow issue is going to become.”
The latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics have found more than a quarter of arts workers have lost their jobs since mid-March. Though the Federal Government has rolled out schemes to keep workers financially afloat, such as JobKeeper, not all workers in the arts and live entertainment industries are eligible to receive the benefits.