Peak live performance body proposes $345million sector stimulus package

"We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience"

Live Performance Australia has outlined a $345million stimulus package proposal to support the arts and live entertainment industry as coronavirus restrictions gradually lift.

Released today (June 4), the proposal breaks down where the government-funded package would go if it were to be granted. Of the $345million, nearly half would be directed into low-interest loan schemes, community engagement funds, a Subclass 408 visa waiver fund, tax incentives for live music venues and productions, and a capital investment fund for businesses.

Budget lines have also been proposed to invest in digital innovation and marketing with e-vouchers to encourage Australians to attend live performances and a financial injection for the Australia Council.

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View the full proposal here.

On top of the sum, Live Performance Australia has also joined other arts and entertainment bodies in calling for the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to be extended for another six months beyond the current September end date.

In a statement, Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson said the industry will be a “major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery” once it gets back on track. The statement also mentioned that having theatres reopen by spring is its first priority.

“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,” Richardson said.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry. We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again.”

At its lowest point, more than a quarter of workers in the arts and recreation sector had lost their jobs and less than half of businesses in the sector were operating. Survey results published by I Lost My Gig, the website established by the Australian Music Industry Network and Australian Festivals Association, recorded $340million in lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison indicated the government was looking at tailored assistance for the screen and stage sector, but extending JobKeeper has been ruled out.

“We welcome the Morrison Government’s acknowledgement of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the arts and entertainment industry, but it’s now time for real action backed by substantial targeted investment,” Richardson said.

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