The Federal Government has announced a $27million relief package for the arts sector, including $10million for mental health charity Support Act.
When announcing the package, arts minister Paul Fletcher said the funds will be going to “three particularly vulnerable areas of specific need”.
“The charity Support Act will receive funding to immediately bolster its incredible work providing crisis relief to artists, crew and arts workers across the arts sector who have been affected by the cancellation of gigs and performances across the country,” he said in a statement.
In addition to Support Act, Regional Arts Australia will be receiving $10million from the package, while $7million will be injected into the government’s Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program.
Support Act, the only Australian charity that centres on crisis relief for those within the music industry, thanked the Federal Government for granting them a $10million funding package in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
In a press statement, Support Act chairperson Sally Howland said, “Since COVID-19 shut down live performances across Australia last month, unprecedented numbers of musicians, road crew and other music workers have been turning to Support Act for crisis assistance.
“Despite dozens of online fundraising campaigns by hundreds of artists over recent weeks, the organisation has been stretched to the absolute limit by these cries for help so today’s announcement will be a game changer for the entire music community.”
“This additional funding from the Government,” Howland continued, “will enable us to ensure that Support Act can provide short term financial support to those artists, crew and music workers who fall through the cracks for any reason and are unable to access Government Benefits; and those who are injured, unwell or have a mental health issue that is preventing them from being able to work.”
The announcement comes after the government voted down a motion yesterday (April 8) to create a financial stimulus package for the sector, 29 votes to 24.
Shadow arts minister Tony Burke called on the Government to “recognise that the Australian arts and entertainment sector needs a specific, tailored, fiscal response package to ensure its ongoing viability, given the structure of the JobKeeper payment has been designed in a way that leaves many workers in the sector ineligible”.
Despite this, Support Act CEO Clive Miller praised the Government’s JobKeeper and JobSeeker schemes, saying they “will go a long way to providing a safety net for the majority of people in the music industry affected by the COVID-19 crisis”.
In March, Support Act launched an emergency appeal in the hopes of raising $20million. A representative told NME Australia last week the target had been reduced to $5million after the government announced relief. The target on the fundraising page now stands at $1million.
Previous stimulus figures proposed by arts and entertainment industry bodies included $750million by the Australian Music Industry Network and Australian Festivals Association, and $2billion by a group of more than 100 organisations including APRA AMCOS and Live Performance Australia.