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Victoria steps up, but wider Aus response “woeful”

Australia’s state of Victoria has dedicated AU$150m to culture, as the Greens propose a $1bn grant for live, but LPA says central govt is yet to offer sufficient support

By IQ on 15 May 2020

Aus gov response for live “woeful”, as state of Victoria steps up

Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state of Victoria

image © jetsetkiwi/Wikimedia Commons

The state of Victoria has dedicated a sizeable financial aid package to kickstart its experience economy, as industry organisations continue to criticise the lack of support from central government.

Australia embarked on its three-step Covid-19 recovery plan last week, with gatherings of up to 100 people permitted, along with the reopening of venues and clubs, in the final stage, but many have criticised the lack of support for the industry from central government.

According to the I Lost My Gig website, which tracks event cancellations in Australia and New Zealand, over 280,000 shows have been affected by the crisis so far, with over $340m (€202m) lost in contracts by the end of April alone.

In the state of Victoria, home to the city of Melbourne, the government has recently dedicated a AU$150m (€88.2m) package to help get the “experience economy” back on track, including $4m (€2.4m) earmarked for the live music sector, $2m (€1.2m) for the sustaining creative workers fund and $32m (€19m) for the wider creative industry.

“In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community.”

The state has also launched Together Victoria, an online hub to support the population through the coronavirus response. Along with hosting content from state museums, galleries and wellness practitioners, music and comedy features highly.

In partnership with Michael Gudinski’s Mushroom Group, The State of Music is a new weekly livestream celebrating the Australian music community. The second episode takes place this Saturday from 18:30AEST and features Tim Minchin, Paul Kelly, Kate Miller-Heiske, Mahalia Barnes, Mia Wray and Missy Higgins.

However, the support given by Victoria has not materialised in other states.

In New South Wales, where bars, pubs and clubs were permitted to reopen today under strict social distancing measures, little has been done to help the cultural sector.

“Our largest state has been missing in action so far in the battle to protect our cultural sector from the devastation being wreaked by the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson.

“The response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.”

“Some of our state governments have put in place targeted measures to support our cultural industries, but the response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.

“Our world-class cultural industry was the first to be shutdown by Covid-19 and will be one of the last to recover, although for all the talk from the Federal Government of helping people cross the bridge to the other side of the pandemic, we see precious little evidence of that support for our cultural sector.”

Despite individual efforts like that seen in Victoria, the central Australian government has received criticism from the shadow arts minister Tony Burke for its $27m (€16m) arts sector stimulus package, which has been deemed insufficient to “save the industry from decimation”.

LPA has proposed a $750 million (€413m) emergency support package to support the industry through the crisis.

This week, the Australian Greens party proposed a $2.3 billion (€1.4bn) economic stimulus package for the arts sector across the entire country. The package includes the $1bn (€595m) Australia Live fund for the country’s festival, music and live performance sector.

“The arts and entertainment industry will be absolutely vital to our economic recovery,” says Greens spokesperson for the arts, Sarah Hanson-Young.

“If we are going to restore our social fabric we need to bring people back together through live performance, when it’s safe to do so, and that is going to take funding support. But it will be worth it as the return on investment from this sector will be enormous and in more ways than one.”

Photo: jetsetkiwi/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (cropped)


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times. 

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