Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke criticises the Government’s $27million arts stimulus

"The Government is failing to properly support the arts sector when it needs it most"

Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke has criticised the Government’s $27million arts stimulus, saying that the “Government is failing to properly support the arts sector when it needs it most.”

Earlier this morning (April 9), Arts Minister Paul Fletcher announced the stimulus to help those in the music industry, as well as Indigenous and rural arts, stay afloat amid the coronavirus crisis.

$10million of the package is allocated to the charity Support Act, which directly helps those within the music industry such as artists, crew and other staff. A further $10million is to be delivered through Regional Arts Australia’s regional arts fund while the remaining $7million will be delivered under the Indigenous Visual Arts Industry Support program.

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In a press release, Burke said that the “Morrison Government clearly does not understand the scale of the crisis facing Australia’s arts and entertainment sector.

“While every extra dollar of support is welcome, the Government’s $27million funding package does not even come close to what’s needed to save this industry from decimation.”

“This is a $50billion industry that employs hundreds of thousands of Australians – and it has been almost completely shut down by Government fiat,” he continued.

“This sector was one of the first to be affected in the earliest rounds of crowd restrictions, and it may be one of the last sectors to recover.”

Burke also noted that “the arts sector was there when Australia needed it, helping to raise money for bushfire relief.”

In Federal Parliament yesterday (April 8), Burke moved a motion that called for a “specific, tailored, fiscal response package to ensure [the] ongoing viability” of the arts and entertainment sector. That motion was voted down.

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In March, Support Act launched an emergency appeal in the hopes of raising $20million but, as a representative told NME Australia last week, the target had been reduced to $5million after the government announced relief. At the time of writing, the target on the fundraising page stands at $1million.

Burke told NME Australia last month that he had not been consulted by Fletcher on plans to assist the arts industry.

“For reasons I don’t understand, the government has chosen to not involve the opposition in any of their discussions,” he said. “We get briefings on the health concerns, but the government has made a decision… that at the different forums for making these decisions, we won’t be at the table.”

In that same interview with NME Australia, Burke praised Support Act’s fundraising efforts, but also said “only government can step in and provide what’s needed.”

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