As the unfolding COVID-19 crisis continues to impact the Australia arts and creative industries, the Australian Greens have called for urgent government investment to save the industry from collapse and ensure artists keep a roof over their head.
The Greens are demanding an urgent injection of $1 billion to protect the industry from collapse and future-proof the arts, alongside restoring and increasing Australia Council funding to expand access for individuals and organisations to access grants.
Quotes attributable to Adam Bandt MP, Leader of the Australian Greens:
"The coronavirus is smashing our economy and the PM's measly stimulus package has left too many people behind, including the 600,000 Australians employed in the creative and arts sector.
"These forgotten workers contribute $112 billion to our economy and should be given the attention they deserve by the PM and any stimulus package.
"The Greens' ‘Saving Creative Australia’ package would deliver a $1billion package to keep the lights on across the sector and guarantee work for artists and creatives. This is essential for those suffering from mass gig and event cancellations who can't simply switch off their expenses.
"We're also backing the two-thirds of artists and creatives who are casuals or freelancers and therefore have no access to paid leave. They must be given easy access to the social safety net and together with everyone on Newstart, this should be at a higher rate of an additional $95 a week so they can survive.
"This investment will give this sector, which other industries like tourism and hospitality rely on, a fighting chance of survival.”
Quotes attributable to Sarah Hanson-Young, Greens Spokesperson for the Arts:
"With festivals and large events cancelled because of COVID19, we must make sure Australian artists and creatives are not forgotten or overlooked as they so often are by this Government. Right now the arts industry is on its knees and the Greens are calling for a $1billion rescue package to save the sector from collapse.
"This package would provide $500million to individual artists and businesses for immediate relief with another $500m to future proof the sector following the predicted six-month shutdown.
"This relief must be coupled with easily accessed income support to keep bills at bay, food on the table and the lights on. We know so many artists and creatives already live below the poverty line, facing a winter with the loss of income from the Easter festival season is devastating and dangerous.
"While this season may be lost, we will recover from this crisis and the industry will need a kickstart when we have. After years of funding cuts to the sector and Australia Council, we need funding restored and extended and a grants program dedicated for summer-time initiatives to regenerate the arts, culture and creative industry.
"If the arts industry could so generously stand by all of us during the bushfire crisis, this is the least we can do to help them and all those who rely on a thriving arts and culture sector during this crisis.