Arts funding package falls short

AAR Tony Burke MPIn response to the federal arts funding package announced earlier today, Shadow Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke MP has said 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 $27 million funding package does not even come close to what’s needed to save this industry from decimation,” he said.

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

These workers are hurting. Many of them have lost 100 per cent of their income but are ineligible for the JobKeeper wage subsidy simply because of the gig-to-gig nature of their industry. Live Performance Australia estimates the live performance industry alone needs $850 million in support to get to the other side of this crisis – 30 times what the Government is offering.

For a month Labor has been calling for a targeted, tailored comprehensive support package for the arts. After years and years of Coalition cuts, arts organisations don’t have the financial wherewithal to get to the other side of this crisis alone. Today’s announcement is a start – but so much more is needed.

The money for Support Act is enough to make a meaningful difference for the work the organisation does helping those who are hitting the hardest of times. It is welcomed. But without a serious support package for the sector, the essential architecture for the arts and entertainment industry simply won’t be there on the other side of this crisis.

The arts sector was there when Australia needed it, helping to raise money for bushfire relief. Australians are relying on music, books, and Australian television and movies to help get them through this period of isolation and crisis. But the Government is failing to properly support the arts sector when it needs it most,” said Mr Burke.

Image: Tony Burke MP (supplied)