Guy Sebastian says he is “embarrassed” about being “a prop for the government”

"I genuinely thought something would happen"

Guy Sebastian says he is “embarrassed” about being used as “a prop for the government” in Scott Morrison’s troubled arts rescue funding last year.

The pop singer stood alongside the Prime Minister in June last year when he announced a $250million relief package to support the arts sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding was criticised for its diminutive size and sluggish rollout, taking months for grants to be dispensed.

Sebastian told News Corp this week he appeared with the PM because he “genuinely thought something would happen”.

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“I’ve asked for updates, everything they gave me was about the RISE grant and things have been allocated to (charity) Support Act. But no one seems to have followed through on their words or had any plans for insurance for people putting on musicals or concerts. It’s not working, obviously.”

Sebastian acknowledged the criticism that he received for appearing alongside Morrison at the time as “fair enough”.

“I copped it, because I was trying to support something I believed would make a difference. And it hasn’t. So that’s on me, I made that decision, I’ll cop it, that’s fair enough. But it doesn’t mean I agree with how it’s been rolled out, I think it’s dismal,” he said.

“I’m embarrassed that I was used as a prop to push something that to be honest they haven’t done the due diligence on to make sure it’s actually getting to the people that need it. It was just a box that was ticked.”

As rolling lockdowns and state border closures continued well into 2021, the federal government announced an extension and expansion of the RISE Fund in March – a part of the $250million arts relief package from last year.

The RISE fund’s guidelines previously set a minimum grant threshold of $75,000 – this is now $25,000 in a bid to encourage small to medium sized organisations to apply. Businesses can now apply jointly, aimed at allowing independent operators like managers, promoters and artists to apply together on a case-by-case basis for tours or events.

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Calls for JobKeeper to be extended for the arts and entertainment sectors went unanswered earlier this year, while a campaign for the introduction of a business interruption fund for live music – effectively an insurance fund – continues on a state and federal level.

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