Government confirms arts funding package to be announced next month

After members of government met with music industry figures last week

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed a relief package from the Federal Government for the arts and entertainment sector is on its way, following months of requests.

Morrison acknowledged the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the sector during a press conference this morning, contrasting the sector’s struggle with other industries who have begun returning to normalcy over the past weeks.

“If we go into the creative and entertainment industries, they have seen no change and that’s not surprising, given the social distancing rules that apply,” Morrison commented. “So we [are examining] and targeting how we’re going to provide that support and we’re working on those responses right now and we’ll announce them in July.”

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Last week, members of the government met with industry bodies, touring companies, ARIA, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and musicians Mark Vincent and Guy Sebastian to discuss a proposed relief package for the sector.

While details of the package are yet to be confirmed, The Guardian reports the committee is exploring grants for businesses that have lost capital during the pandemic and subsidies for artists who wish to resume touring.

The news follows multiple proposals for stimulus packages from leaders of the arts and entertainment industry. Recently, Live Performance Australia called for a $345million industry bailout as it continues to deal with the economic consequences of the pandemic.

“It’s well and truly time for the Federal Government to get behind Australia’s arts and entertainment industry and deliver a comprehensive and properly funded plan so our world-class industry can get back to work,” Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson said earlier this month.

In April, the government announced a $27million stimulus package for the arts, which included $10million for mental health charity Support Act. The package was overshadowed by the combined financial commitments to the arts sector made by various state governments and city councils, and was quickly criticised by the federal opposition.

“While every extra dollar of support is welcome, the Government’s $27million funding package does not even come close to what’s needed to save this industry from decimation,” shadow arts minister Tony Burke said at the time.

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“This is a $50billion industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Australians – and it has been almost completely shut down by Government fiat.”

Last week, the Australia Bureau of Statistics released employment figures which recorded a drop in jobs in the arts and recreation sector across May. The new data coincided with the rise of a parliamentary petition that called for greater financial support for the industry. The petition currently has more than 30,000 signatures.

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