Australian arts organisations send open letter advocating for over $2 billion stimulus

"At this time, every single day counts"

A group of over 100 Australian arts organisations have written an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, advocating for “urgent” targeted stimulus of over $2 billion.

Organisations from the music, theatre, film, television, visual art, literary and dance sectors signed the letter, sent late on Thursday (March 26) this week. The new targeted stimulus figure is the value of 2 per cent of the $111.7 billion industry, according to the letter.

“We were the first industry to be hit with announcements of cancellations and closures making front-page news across the country. Our venues and other programs have been closed down by government order, without any industry support. And we will be one of the last able to trade again,” it reads.

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“At this time, every single day counts. Each passing day means the permanent closure of another bookshop, regional theatre, gallery, live music venue, production or festival, and with them the knowledge and infrastructures that have been built over many years.”

The letter specifies how the industry believes the stimulus should be allocated. It includes $1.5 billion in cash injection payments to affected businesses across all sectors, $180 million for the Australia Council to boost capacity, $30 million towards the Regional Arts Fund and a $40 million investment in music crisis charity Support Act.

It also asks the government to invest in the protection of First Peoples’ cultural knowledge with targeted support for all impacted First Nations artists and organisations, and the abolishment of the Efficiency Dividend – an annual budget cut imposed on cultural institutions.

Read the full letter here. This stimulus proposed in the new open letter is a separate figure to the 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 new letter is one of many pleas issued by those in the arts and entertainment sector since the announcement of public gatherings bans. Yesterday (March 27), more than 100 university academics and arts workers signed an open letter calling on the Australian Government to provide dedicated support to the live performance sector.

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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.

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