WA premier Mark McGowan has announced a new round of financial support for those affected by the state’s recent COVID-19 restrictions (which ended at 6am yesterday, January 4), including a revamped version of the government’s ‘Getting The Show Back On The Road’ scheme for affected tours and festivals.
Sharing the news on Facebook last Thursday (December 30), McGowan conceded that “while the current public health measures are necessary, we do recognise they have an impact on major events, nightclubs, venues, suppliers, artists and performers over what is one of the busiest times of the year”.
McGowan described the government’s new effort as “a generous multi-million-dollar package” that “[recognises] the impact of unrecoverable losses and the higher levels of trade for these businesses over the festive period”. It will include grants of $12,500 for “eligible businesses directly affected by public health measures” ($4,400 for sole traders), as well as one-off payments of $20,000 for nightclubs forced to shut due to current restrictions.
We put in a lot of work over the past two years to ensure our hospitality and nightlife sectors could keep operating…
Traders hosting ticketed events will be able to benefit from the newly revamped ‘Getting The Show Back On The Road+’ program, which “aims to reduce the financial risks associated with running ticketed events” and “encourage the safe continuation of public ticketed events”.
Applications for the scheme as due to be opened sometime this month, with the government’s website stating that more information will be available on Monday January 10. Per an official sheet of guidelines, promotors will be able to submit a new application for each event affected by current restrictions. However, events with a capacity of less than 100 people – or ticket sales under $5,000 – will not be eligible.
A press release notes that ‘Getting The Show Back On The Road+’ cover 75 per cent of box office losses owing to events being cancelled, with a capacity listed at $150,000. Exceptions to that cap will be considered, it’s noted, “on a case-by-case basis pending a detailed assessment”.
David Templeman, minister for culture and the arts, said the revamped scheme “will provide those eligible with financial support to assist in these difficult circumstances”.
“The nature of many of the events planned meant they simply could not go ahead under the necessary public health measures,” he continued, “and this iteration of Getting The Show Back On The Road will soon be available to provide some important support to eligible event holders, artists and creatives.”
Concerns have been raised over whether independent artists, small-scale promotors and other sole-trading entities will be able to benefit from the new stimulus package. Previous efforts have required traders to be registered for GST – barring many of those most in need of financial support from eligibility – however a representative for the WA Small Business Development Corporation tells NME that GST will not be a required for applicants of ‘Getting The Show Back On The Road+’.
In a statement posted to their own Facebook page, the industry body West Australian Music (WAM) called the premier’s new scheme “a positive first step for an industry in despair”.
“We would love to see this accompanied by consultation with industry on further restrictions and reopening plans,” the organisation wrote, “together with varying the eligibility criteria for financial packages, seeking concessional tax treatment for these payments so they can be tax free, and supporting a nationalised insurance scheme for business interruption like other jurisdictions.”
McGowan’s announcement came amid an onslaught of controversy levied at the premier, as live music events – such as last year’s Origin Fields, Ice Cream Factory, Disco Dreams and Snack festivals – were forced to be scrapped while the Perth Cup horse race was permitted to go ahead on New Year’s day.
“[It’s] frustrating to see that horse racing and gambling takes precedence over the arts in this state and there’s no real nice way to frame that,” Origin Fields’ organisers said in a statement, noting that “in the 15 years of holding the event, [they’ve] never endured anything like this”.