New research from progressive think tank, The Australia Institute, has found the majority of Australians are in favour of a $750million stimulus package to support the struggling live performance sector.
In a discussion paper released today (April 16), the research found 58 per cent of respondents supported the stimulus package, while 24 per cent of Australians opposed it. Of the respondents, more than half of Coalition voters (53 per cent) supported the figure. The research surveyed 1,008 people earlier this month.
In a statement discussing the paper, research director Rod Campbell said “the economic contribution of this sector is rarely discussed”.
“Creative and performing arts employ four times as many people as coal mining and as many as finance,” he said.
“The COVID-19 crisis has hit the arts hard, with reports of over $330 million in contracts lost. This comes on top of the challenges already facing the sector, for example substantial reductions in federal funding in recent years.”
The $750million figure in question comes from a proposal put forward by the Australian Festivals Association and the Australian Music Industry Network and published on the I Lost My Gig website. The funds would be distributed to affected companies, the Australia Council for the Arts and music mental health charity Support Act. An open letter supporting the stimulus package was signed by more than 100 academics.
Other proposals that have been floated include a significantly larger $2billion relief package, supported by more than 100 arts organisations, and a $650million package, proposed by Australia’s largest touring companies.
The new research follows the passing of the JobKeeper legislation in Parliament on April 8. However, as Guardian Australia reports, the majority of arts workers aren’t eligible to receive the $130billion wage initiative. Prior to the legislation passing, the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance campaigned to have the legislation amended so that these workers wouldn’t fall through the cracks.
On the same day as the legislation passed, a motion was put forward by shadow arts minister Tony Burke calling on the Coalition Government to put together a tailored stimulus package for the arts sector. The motion was voted down in the House of Representatives.
Since then, the government has committed to a $27million relief package for the arts sector, which includes $10million for Support Act.
Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics found that the nation’s arts and recreation sector was the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic. In the week commencing March 30, only 47 per cent of businesses in the arts and recreation industry reported that they were operating. The next lowest figure was the information media and telecommunications sector at 65 per cent.