‘Catastrophic’: Musos’ dire warning amid JobKeeper pleas

 

More than 3500 musicians and art workers have urgently petitioned the federal government to extend JobKeeper or introduce an industry specific wage subsidy package to save the live music industry from a "catastrophic" decline.

Missy Higgins, Midnight Oil, Bernard Fanning, Lime Cordiale, Something for Kate and The Avalanches are among those who have added their name to the open letter pleading with the Government to save the live events industry from falling off the COVID cliff.

 

Midnight Oil have backed the industry appeal to government for an arts wage subsidy. Picture: Richard Dobson
Midnight Oil have backed the industry appeal to government for an arts wage subsidy. Picture: Richard Dobson


The cycle of border closures and restrictions to mass gatherings - which aren't sporting fixtures - have crippled the industry's attempts to restart after 12 months of inaction.

The open letter sent to the Federal Government this week applauded the efforts of government to control local transmission of the virus and expressed gratitude for the $250 million grants package to stimulate the recovery of the sector.

But artists, promoters, venues and crew can't plan that restart.

"Live music alone is operating at under four per cent of pre-COVID levels as a result of continual border closures and social distancing regulations," the letter states.

"Since March last year there has not been a single national tour undertaken by an Australian artist and there has not been a single festival run at full capacity. The music and live entertainment industry remains in lockdown."

 

Higgins says it is impossible to plan a tour around sudden border closures. Picture: Mark Wilson.
Higgins says it is impossible to plan a tour around sudden border closures. Picture: Mark Wilson.

 

Missy Higgins, who has played a handful of concerts in recent months, said it was impossible to plan a tour under current conditions and a wage subsidy was desperately needed by hundreds of thousands of workers in the sector.

There are also fears of a huge brain drain of expertise as sound, lighting, staging and other technicians are forced to leave the industry in search of other employment.

"Tours and shows take months to plan and execute. But with borders continually coming down and so much uncertainty it's been almost impossible for anyone to get any shows up over the last year," Higgins said.

"And it's not really about the high profile acts, it's about the smaller touring acts who only just make ends meet at the best of times, and the thousands of people who help make music happen - crew, promoters, agents, publicists, venues, managers.

"Every muso and music worker wants to get back to work, but at the moment it's really hard to see how that's going to happen until well after we get the vaccine. Even then, because we have to plan tours so far in advance, we'll be one of the last industries to get back on our feet."

 

 

The industry is desperate for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take their plight seriously. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage
The industry is desperate for Prime Minister Scott Morrison to take their plight seriously. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

 

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has ruled out any extension to JobKeeper, which has prompted the events industry to plead for a targeted wage subsidy.

"Extending JobKeeper, or providing an industry specific wage subsidy package, will keep the show on the road. This doesn't just make cultural sense, it makes economic sense," the letter argued.

"The arts and entertainment sector contributes around $15 billion per year in GDP, employing close to 200,000 highly-skilled Australians. Australia Institute research has found that for every million dollars in turnover, arts and entertainment produce nine jobs while the construction industry only produces around one job.

"We can't afford to lose the skills and businesses of our industry. The result for Australian music and live entertainment would be catastrophic."

 

 

 

Originally published as 'Catastrophic': Musos' dire warning amid JobKeeper pleas


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