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Creative industry unites to secure Australia’s cultural life

BY morey media | 27-Mar-2020
Some fifty of Australia’s leading arts, creative, cultural and entertainment industry bodies have united to send a clear message to the Prime Minister: act now to ensure that Australia’s cultural life survives COVID-19.
National Association of Visual Arts 'Future Forward Day"
Photo credit: Zan Wimberley
Targeted stimulus to a value of 2% of the $111.7 billion industry is urgently required to save hundreds of thousands of jobs and prevent business closures, so that Australia’s social and cultural life can adapt and survive through COVID-19’s perils.

The industry group’s letter has been sent to the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, key Government and Opposition Front Benchers, each state and territory minister for the arts or creative industries, and all lord mayors.

“At this most debilitating time in Australia’s cultural life, our creative, cultural and entertainment industries require urgent support to ensure that jobs and infrastructure survive to inspire Australians through this crisis – and well beyond,” the letter says.

“Cultural and creative activity contributes in excess of $110 billion to Australia’s economy each year, employing hundreds of thousands, with a high proportion of sole trader contractors, SMEs and casuals. Our audiences, here and around the world, number in the millions. Every day, we entertain, educate and inspire.

“Our venues and other programs have been closed down by government order, without any industry support.

“Our work relies on gatherings, and national and international touring, both small and large, in remote locations, in regions and in cities. We were the first industry to be hit, with announcements of cancellations and closures making front-page news across the country. And we will be one of the last able to trade again.

“There are also dire impacts on First Nations culture and a great risk to Elders as the source of cultural knowledge and storytelling. As a national priority, we must ensure our First Nations Elders’ safety to prevent loss of cultural knowledge. First Nations Elders are the holders of our Nation’s oldest culture and stories. Without them, we have no future.

“In the past fortnight, we have seen our self-generated income for the year vanish. Work that has taken years to develop has been lost. Livelihoods have been jeopardised. Businesses closed. Whether it’s a bookshop, a gallery, a community museum, a live music venue, a national or international tour, a cinema or a theatre, Australia’s cultural life is in tatters.

“A legacy like this will take a generation to repair.

“As each day passes, hundreds of businesses, spaces, venues, productions, events, festivals and cultural outlets close. As each day passes, the likelihood of reopening or restarting diminishes. The scale of loss across the cultural and creative sector is unprecedented – and devastating. Culturally and economically. There are also dire impacts on culture and a great risk to Elders as the source of cultural knowledge and storytelling.

“We commend the work of Minister Fletcher in hosting industry-wide roundtables and bringing forward an extraordinary Meeting of Cultural Ministers. We commend the city, state and federal agencies, including the Australia Council, who have already made announcements on adjustments to their funding programs and existing relationships.

“We note however that funded organisations comprise a minor segment of the creative, cultural and entertainment industries. Over 90% of our artists, creators and businesses are not in receipt of public funding and are not able to benefit from these measures. Other stimulus measures already announced do not adequately address our specific industry conditions.

“At this time, every single day counts. Each passing day means the permanent closure of another bookshop, regional theatre, gallery, live music venue, production or festival. The risk for all Australians is that they will never open again. Whole centres, towns and suburbs risk losing any cultural fabric that remains.

“Australia needs our creative, cultural and entertainment industries to be ready for reactivation as the nation emerges from COVID-19. We urge you to act now to secure the future of Australia’s cultural life.”

SIGNATORIES

Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia
All Conference
APRA AMCOS
Art on the Move
Arts Access Australia
Artsource
artisan
Artists’ Benevolent Fund
Arts Industry Council of SA
Arts Industry Council of Victoria
Association of Artist Managers
Ausdance National
Australian Craft and Design Centres
Australian Design Centre
Australian Festivals Association
Australian Independent Record Labels Association
Australian Library and Information Association
Australian Museums & Galleries Association
Australian Music Industry Network
Australian Network for Art and Technology
Australian Society of Authors
BlakDance
Canberra Glassworks
Central Craft
The Childers Group
Craft Victoria
CrewCare
Design Tasmania
Diversity Arts Australia
GalleriesWest
Guildhouse
Ilbijerri
JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design
Live Music Office
Moogahlin Performing Arts
Music Australia
National Association for the Visual Arts
National Writers Centre Network
Performing Arts Connections Australia
Public Galleries Queensland
pvi collective
Regional Arts Australia
Screen Producers Australia
Sounds Australia
Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group
SupportAct
Theatre Network Australia
Writers SA
Writing NSW
Writing WA
Yirra Yaakin