In Sydney we’ve seen the arts and cultural sector of our city become one of the hardest his sectors following the COVID-19 outbreak. Many people employed in this sector are casual employees or self-employed individuals who rely on income from gig to gig in order to survive.
Over the past few days we’ve seen the State and Federal government providing some relief in the form of Centrelink benefits for those who are now employed and limited tax concessions for the few small businesses which have remained.
In Germany a raft of measures have been introduced to keep a sector which the German Cultural Minister Monika Grütters described as “indispensable” and “vital” alive.
On Tuesday Germany introduced a €50 billion package focusing just on arts and culture. The three part package will include grants designed to help with overhead costs like venue rentals and artist studios, loans to help bridge financial bottlenecks, and support for media/newspaper organisations.
In addition to this new package Germany has already made a commitment to provide social security benefits to freelancers for a period of six months.
“The courage of creative people can help to overcome the crisis. We should seize every opportunity to create good things for the future. That is why the following applies: artists are not only indispensable, but also vital, especially now,” said Grütters.
Here in Australia the Senator, Sarah Hanson-Young has renewed calls for support to be given to our arts sector.
“Artists, musicians, creatives and crews lost most, if not all, of their income overnight and together with organisations, unions and the Greens, have been pleading with the government for targeted support ever since. The Greens’ plan to save Creative Australia would inject $1billion, with half going towards to protecting the industry from collapse and half towards future proofing the arts. Other countries have clearly recognised the vital role arts and culture plays in our society, not just as a contributor to the economy ($112 billion pa in Australia) and as an integral part of other sectors such as tourism and hospitality, but to help everyone at times of crisis. Without target support there won’t be an [arts] industry left on the other side of this crisis.”