The lockdown and social distancing protocols currently in place across Australia have already had a devastating impact on the arts and entertainment communities and the recent stimulus package announced by the Government looks unlikely to have any real positive impact in the short or longer term. The Australian arts community has always been quick to rally and support those enduring hardship through the donation of their time and talents to raise money and/or awareness. The recent bushfire relief concerts and performances staged across the country are the most recent example of the way in which the arts community rallies in times of need. As such, it is incomprehensible that the Government would develop and implement an economic stimulus package that seems deliberately designed to exclude those who work within the arts and entertainment industry. It is shameful that this industry has been disregarded in such a way. With the very real prospect that many venues may never survive the shutdown, those that are able to reopen once the restrictions of movement and assembly are lifted, may find themselves without local artists to grace their stages or fill their gallery spaces. Such a scenario would have a catastrophic effect on an industry that contributes more than $100 billion to the Australian economy every year. Not to mention the fact that Australia has produced a disproportionate number of distinguished artists in every form, from poets to dancers, to filmmakers, writers, designers, actors, painters, singers and musicians.
At least, in many instances, venue staff will receive financial assistance through the stimulus package, yet the musicians, artists, performers and technical crew are somehow deemed unworthy of such assistance. It is scandalous that the Government has indicated a willingness to provide financial assistance to particular industries, and individual companies, yet has nothing meaningful to offer by way of support to the industry that was one of the first to be significantly impacted by restrictions on public gatherings and other social restrictions. The arts and creative industries embrace cultural diversity, social inclusion, self-expression and create untold opportunities for engagement with the world, yet the Australian Government has determined that arts practitioners are unworthy of any recognition or support though this unprecedented time of social upheaval.
Given there is no way of knowing if, and when artists will return to stages and galleries or when cinemas will reopen, it is important to continue supporting artists as much as possible, whether that be simply connecting with them online to express your appreciation for their work, attend an online event or purchasing artworks or merchandise where possible to help ride out the industry shutdown.
The last live music performances staged in Brisbane were more than a month ago (and it seems like forever) and included tour-opening shows from the likes of Dulcie and Egoism, as well as the inaugural Nine Lives Festival at The Tivoli. Photos from these shows can be viewed here , with hopefully many more to come once the COVID-19 threat has passed, despite the failure of our Government to offer any level of meaningful assistance and support.
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For more reading on the value of arts in the community, click here.