Over 3,500 artists and industry workers have signed an open letter calling on the Australian Government to extend the JobKeeper program beyond March.
Paul Kelly, Courtney Barnett, Archie Roach, Missy Higgins, Midnight Oil, The Avalanches and Powderfinger‘s Bernard Fanning are among the artists who’ve supported the initiative, urging the Australian Government to either extend the program, or provide an “industry-specific wage subsidy” for those who work in the music and live event industry.
The letter, signed by over 3,500 artists and industry workers, was sent today (February 17) to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher.
It acknowledges the enormous impact COVID-19 has had on what it calls “an industry in crisis”, and points to new figures released today by ARPA AMCOS that reveal Australia’s live music industry is operating at less than four per cent compared to this time last year.
“Each time there is another COVID-19 cluster or a quarantine breach, any plans to trade again are halted. 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,” the open letter reads.
“Since March last year there has not been a single national tour undertaken by an Australian artist and there has not been a single festival run at full capacity. The music and live entertainment industry remains in lockdown.”
“A restart can’t happen while borders remain closed and audience capacity limits are in place,” it adds.
“Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road.”
The government’s JobKeeper scheme is currently due to end on March 28, after being extended from its original end date of September 28, 2020.
The letter concludes by pointing out the Australian arts and entertainment sector’s contribution to the national economy, acknowledging it contributes approximately $15billion per year in GDP, and employs close to 200,000 industry workers. You can read the letter in full here.
The open letter arrives just days after a new study out of Victoria found 58 per cent of respondents said they have considered leaving the state’s music industry due to the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost three quarters of people surveyed reported that their income had decreased, while 57 per cent were concerned about being able to afford the basics, such as groceries and rent.
Just under half had lost their music industry work completely due to COVID-19, with the amount of people in full-time employment dropping from 34 per cent to a small 7 per cent.