The Federal Government has increased funding for the live music and entertainment industries today, adding $125million to the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund and offering an additional $10million to music crisis charity Support Act.
The RISE fund’s guidelines previously set a minimum grant threshold of $75,000 – this will now lower to $25,000 in a bid to encourage small to medium sized organisations to apply. They will also now allow for businesses to 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.
The RISE Fund was announced last April as part of the government’s $250million arts relief package announced in June, and began with $75million. Last year’s arts relief package also provided Support Act with an initial $10million. The fund was criticised in August for being slow to publish guidelines and allocate funding.
Federal MP for the Arts Paul Fletcher said the government’s focus had turned to “stimulating activity so the work opportunities can flow”.
“This new funding comes at an important stage in the resurgence of Australia’s arts and entertainment sector. The purpose of the RISE program is to get shows put on, bringing employment to performers, crews and front-of-house staff,” he said.
Again, eligibility for the grant’s will be judged by a panel of “experienced assesors” from Mr Fletcher’s department, while seeking advice from the Australian Council for the Arts. The Minister will have the final decision on the grant recipients.
The increase in scope and funding has been welcomed by Live Performance Australia, as Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson says it will provide “considerable community stimulus to both upstream and downstream businesses which are driven off the back of Australia’s $15 billion live performance industry”.
“Extending the scope of the RISE program will provide a targeted and temporary measure for the sector to retain its core skills base as it prepares for full reactivation in Q4 [Fourth Quarter] onwards. In addition to music promoters and festivals, this will encourage more direct applications from micro-businesses such as managers and booking agents for contemporary music tours and events.
“It will also help support employment retention in the live music sector over the next six months when it will still be operating well below capacity. Making it easier for businesses to get support to plan shows and claim pre-production costs, which includes key entertainment workers, is critical.”
Richardson added that the music industry’s recovery had been “uneven”, and would be unable to reach full capacity until the end of this year into 2022 because of COVID-19 restrictions with the JobKeeper wage subsidy ending this month.
A survey released by I Lost My Gig Australia last month suggested over half (53 per cent) of businesses in the creative and live entertainment industries would close when JobKeeper runs out on March 31. Only two per cent of respondents said they had accessed any RISE funding.