Tina Arena criticises lack of support for Australia’s arts sector

The singer claimed there is a double standard between how art and sport are treated in Australia

Tina Arena has criticised the lack of support for the arts over the course of the pandemic in an interview on Studio 10.

Arena was on the morning show over the weekend to discuss the 50th anniversary of Australian variety show Young Talent Time, where she performed as a child. During the interview, the respected singer-songwriter said there continues to be a “categoric disrespect” between how sport and culture are treated under pandemic restrictions.

“I hate the differentiation between sport and arts in Australia. It’s now at a point where, for me, somebody needs to draw the line. As the artistic community, we will draw the line in the sand now and we’ll say, ‘No more of your double standards now,’” she said.

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“Sport is a great thing, absolutely, we understand it, but life is not just about sport, life is about art and culture, and art and culture play an equally important role.”

When prompted about how artists helped out at the Fire Fight concert in early 2020, Arena said that help has not been reciprocated.

“If anything ever goes wrong within this country, the artistic community has always lifted their sleeves up. We’ve gone in there, we’ve done what we need to do because we believe it, it’s a role we play. We’re very happy to play that role to help people – that’s what we do,” she said.

“Now we’re in trouble, is someone helping us? No. It’s amazing how people just fly away and disappear. However, they’re very quick to ask us to help, to work for free, to relinquish any kind of remuneration from work, from sales of records…”

Watch the interview below:

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Arena’s comments follow similar remarks made by other musicians over the course of the pandemic. Last month, for example, Alex Lahey published an open letter questioning the federal government’s roadmap to easing restrictions, and how it pertains to the return of live music in Australia.

“Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes. The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and event, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation,” she wrote.

“There need to be structures in place that ensure prompt and direct reparative financial support for business and individuals in the event that gigs, tours or festivals cannot move forward due to outbreaks. Further to this, a wage subsidy system will allow for workers and performers to make ends meet during the inevitable capacity restrictions as we emerge from lockdowns.”

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