Dear Prime Minister, A united sector calls

119 organisations and associations warn of the Coronavirus impact on Australia's arts and cultural sector.

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The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Prime Minister

The Hon Michael McCormack MP

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Regional Development

Thursday 26 March 2020

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.

Our organisations represent the full diversity of Australia’s creative, cultural and entertainment industries. 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.

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 are jeopardised. Businesses closed. Whether it’s a bookshop, a gallery, a live music venue, a cinema, a theatre, or dance school, Australia’s cultural life is in tatters.

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 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.

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. Our venues and other programs have been closed down by government order, without any industry support. And we will be one of the last able to trade again.

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 relief measures already announced which do not adequately address our specific industry conditions include:

The PAYG and NFP cashflow relief for businesses requires submitting March activity statements and then awaiting a late April refund, thereby impacting perilously on cashflow at this most critical time. It’s right now that companies are facing closure, and this payment alone will close many businesses permanently;

Artists and artsworkers with disabilities, Australians stranded overseas, and those whose partner’s or parents’ income exceed too low a threshold, are not eligible to receive extra income support payments, with no extra payments for those eligible available prior to late April;

Income support payments to job seekers separate arts workers from organisations in ways that wage subsidies would not, dispersing creative teams and imperilling business viability.

Both individually and together, we have taken immediate action to support our industries at this perilous time:

We have channelled urgent government information across our networks

We have supported people who’ve lost jobs and whose companies are on the brink

We have surveyed our industries and quantified COVID-19 impacts on jobs and revenue, and have provided these details to the Office for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts for coordination on immediate action.

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, and with them the knowledge and infrastructures that have been built over many years. The risk for all Australians is that they will never open again. Whole centres, towns and suburbs risk losing any cultural fabric that remains.

A legacy like this will take a generation to repair.

Targeted stimulus to a value of 2% of the $111.7 billion industry is required, including:

The protection of First Peoples cultural knowledge with targeted support for all impacted First Nations artists and organisations, who employ the most COVID-19-vulnerable people in our country

$1.5bn in cash injection payments to affected businesses across all sectors so that they can retain staff, adapt programs including through the use of technologies, and redevelop audiences – ensuring that businesses do not lose permanently; importantly, these stimulus payments will allow professional membership bodies to pay affected artists directly and efficiently

$180m for the Australia Council to boost capacity by supporting organisations who are funded specifically for their industry development work

Rent relief and security for lease holders in both government-owned and private tenancies

Wage subsidies that retain people in their workplace, better positioning organisations to successfully rebuild, and in turn ensuring livelihoods aren’t permanently lost

Review and broaden the eligibility requirements for income support payments to ensure that, where wage subsidies are not available, support can be accessed by all sole traders and SMEs

Enhanced tax incentives to motivate private giving and investment in artworks and industry development

Permanently remove the Efficiency Dividend, which is punitively compounding the damage to national and state cultural organisations

$30m towards the Regional Arts Fund to ensure long-term recovery that inspires regional culture and drives regional livelihoods

$40m investment in Support Act and the Artists’ Benevolent Fund to urgently redress the mental health crisis, noting that tragedies have already occured

On industry advice, creating well-designed long-term stimulus measures to avoid industry collapse and inspire innovation – including an impactful public campaign to rebuild confidence.

As an immediate step towards strengthening industry confidence, we encourage you to issue a public statement recognising the value of our industry to all Australians, and the debilitating impacts of COVID-19 on the arts, cultural and entertainment industries and the creative sector as a whole. This message would affirm your commitment to the livelihoods and the infrastructure that inspires the nation. It would also be welcomed by the many industries whose work is dependent on our success, including hospitality and tourism – especially regionally, given all of these interdependent industries are yet to recover from the impacts of summer’s fires, floods and storms.

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.

Sincerely,

Aboriginal Art Centre Hub of Western Australia

ACT Natimuk

aestheticalliance

All Conference

All The Queen's Men

Alstonville Dance Studio (Northern Rivers NSW)

APHIDS

APRA AMCOS

Art Association of Australia and New Zealand

Art on the Move

Artback NT

artisan

Artists’ Benevolent Fund

Arts Access Australia

Arts Industry Council of SA

Arts Industry Council of Victoria

Arts Law Centre of Australia

Arts Mid North Coast

Arts Mildura

Arts North West

ArtsHub.com.au

Artsource

Asialink Arts

Association of Artist Managers

Ausdance National

Ausdance Queensland

Australian Centre for Photography

Australian Craft and Design Centres

Australian Design Centre

Australian Festivals Association

Australian Independent Record Labels Association

Australian Library and Information Association

Australian Major Performing Arts Group

Australian Museums & Galleries Association

Australian Music Centre

Australian Music Industry Network

Australian Network for Art and Technology

Australian Print Workshop

Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA)

Australian Society of Authors

BlakDance

Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative

Brisbane Writers Festival

Canberra Glassworks

Central Craft

The Chamber of Arts & Culture Western Australia

Collingwood Yards

Craft Victoria

Creative Recovery Network

CrewCare

Critical Stages Touring

Dance Integrated Australia

Design Tasmania

Diversity Arts Australia

Electronic Music Conference

Flying Arts Alliance

Footscray Community Arts Centre

Freeplay Independent Games Festival

GalleriesWest

Guildhouse

Halcyon

Hyphenated Projects

Ilbijerri

Incite Arts, Alice Springs

JamFactory Contemporary Craft and Design

Ku Arts

Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery

Lemony S Puppet Theatre

Live Music Office

Live Performance Australia

Melbourne Art Review

Melbourne Fringe

Monash University Museum of Art

Moogahlin Performing Arts

Moorambilla Voices

Morning Belle

Music ACT

Music Australia

Music NSW

Music NT

Music SA

Music Tasmania

Music Victoria

National Association for the Visual Arts

National Writers Centre Network

NorthSite Contemporary Arts

Performing Arts Connections Australia

Phonographic Performance Company of Australia (PPCA)

Playwriting Australia

Public Galleries Queensland

Punctum

pvi collective

QMusic

Raspberry Ripple Productions

Regional Arts Australia

Regional Arts WA

Ruckus Brisbane

Samstag Museum of Art

Screen Producers Australia

Select Music Agency

SLAM (Save Live Australia's Music)

Sounds Australia

STRUT Dance

SupportAct

Sydney Arts Management Advisory Group

Tactile Arts

Tasdance

Tasmania Performs

The Childers Group

Theatre Network Australia

University Art Museums Australia (UAMA)

Victorian Music Development Office

Vitalstatistix

WAM Western Australia Music

Women's Art Register

Writers SA

Writing NSW

Writing WA

Yirra Yaakin

CC

The Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, Treasurer

Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann, Minister for Finance

The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts

The Hon Anthony Albanese MP, Leader of the Opposition

The Hon Jim Chalmers MP, Shadow Treasurer

Senator the Hon Katy Gallagher MP, Shadow Minister for Finance

The Hon Tony Burke MP, Shadow Minister for Industrial Relations and the Arts

Mr Gordon Ramsay MLA, Minister for the Arts, ACT

The Hon Leeanne Enoch MP, Minister for the Arts, QLD

The Hon Don Harwin MLC, Minister for the Public Service and Employee Relations, Aboriginal Affairs, and the Arts, NSW

The Hon Lauren Moss, Minister for the Arts, NT

The Hon Steven Marshall MP, Premier, Minister for the Arts, SA

The Hon Elise Archer MP, Minister for the Arts, TAS

Mr Martin Foley MP, Minister for Creative Industries, VIC

The Hon David Templeman MLA, Minister for Local Government, Heritage, Culture and the Arts, WA

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Sandy Verschoor

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Adrian Schrinner

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Darwin, Kon Vatsakalis

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Hobart, Anna Reynolds

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Sally Capp

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Nuatali Nelmes

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Parramatta, Bob Dwyer

The Chair Commissioner of Perth, Andrew Hammond

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore

The Rt Hon the Lord Mayor of Wollongong, Gordon Bradbery

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