Live Performance Australia (LPA) – the country’s peak body for entertainment – has urged the Federal Government to provide targeted support for the sector once JobKeeper payments end on March 28.
In a statement released today (February 22), the organisation expressed their concern for the recovery of live entertainment businesses.
They shared worrying survey results to illustrate their fears, reporting that 90 per cent of arts and entertainment businesses still rely on JobKeeper payments.
Of this number, only 2 per cent expect they’ll be able to return to 81-100 per cent pre-COVID capacity this year, with snap lockdowns, international border closures and audience restrictions impacting on the viability of business.
In equally unsettling results, LPA estimated that without a continued wage subsidy 33 per cent of live entertainment companies will make staff redundant, while 20 per cent will continue to keep staff stood down.
Another 17 per cent will ask staff to work reduced hours, 13 per cent will have to close their business entirely, and 51 per cent will cut costs of operating even further.
The LPA’s Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, said in a press statement that immediate assistance was required in order to keep the industry afloat.
“Like tourism and hospitality, the pandemic has had a devastating impact on live entertainment with an estimated $24 billion of lost economic output and $11 billion lost in industry value,” she said.
“We’ve also seen 79 000 (65%) jobs lost, which is around two thirds of our work force.”
“For our industry to operate profitably we need our venues operating at full capacity, unrestricted interstate movement, and open international borders without extensive quarantine. Due to essential health considerations, we don’t see these three necessary conditions coming into play in the next six to nine months.”
“If we are to play our part in Australia’s economic and social recovery, we need targeted government support to save jobs and companies beyond March. Our survival depends on it.”
The LPA’s actions are the latest in a growing storm of concern from music industry bodies surrounding the industry’s future following the end of JobKeeper payments.
Last week, over 3,500 signatories sent an open letter to the Morrison Government calling for an extension to the package.
“Each time there is another COVID-19 cluster or a quarantine breach, any plans to trade again are halted,” it read.
“Musicians, sole traders, venues, clubs, festivals, music businesses and the industry remain out of work. Billions of dollars for hospitality and tourism generated from Australian music remains stifled.”
Back in January, APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston echoed a similar sentiment, referring to JobKeeper as “the single most important policy intervention by the government since the pandemic hit our shores.”
A recent Victorian study also outlined the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the entertainment sector, finding that 58 per cent of respondents were considering leaving the industry for work in other fields.