Arts & Entertainment

Greens Demand Greater Support For Artists In Lockdown

Jamie Parker calls for financial support for arts during lockdown

By Tessa Pelle

The arts, entertainment and live music industries were some of the first hit by social distancing restrictions and continue to face further uncertainty as the Sydney lockdown drags on indefinitely.

Greens MP for Balmain, Jamie Parker has backed calls for greater government support to be given to creatives affected by Sydney’s stay at home orders.

Art, screen and culture has been absolutely hammered by COVID and the response from the both the federal government and state government is completely inadequate, Jamie said.

The Greens propose a federal insurance guarantee for the arts sector. Jamie says the industry needs to feel like they are being cared for throughout lockdowns.

“We’ve seen so many, particularly in the performing arts, who are having to make incredibly difficult decisions. An insurance guarantee would mean that at least for a significant portion of the arts community, that they would be able to plan ahead knowing that they would have that support in terms of an insurance guarantee,” Jamie said.

As events and live performances continue to be cancelled, the arts and entertainment communities face ongoing uncertainty.

“My biggest frustration is that there doesn’t seem to be a recognition that artists and people in the arts community don’t tend to have very big pockets. Most people in the arts are not high earning individuals and they’re people who need support and if we don’t, we’ll lose them from the arts,” Jamie said.

Current support for artists in lockdown is limited, with pleas for more targeted and increased spending.

“There is support via disaster payments that the federal government is offering but it is such a small amount of money. We Greens have been calling for the reintroduction of JobKeeper and we’ve been supported by so many in the arts community on those calls.

“At a state level, the state government released a performance and arts COVID support package and also what they call a rescue and restart package. But these packages are so modest, and they need an immediate injection of additional funds, Jamie said.

The Greens call for the Restart Investment To Sustain & Expand (RISE) fund to be uncapped so those who need support can access it. The fund currently provides grants between $25,000 and $2 million to the creative sector, however the eligibility criteria leaves out key arts and entertainment communities.

“We want the thresholds to be lower and caps to be taken off [the RISE funds] to ensure that the whole diversity of the arts community can access and benefit from the funds that are available,” Jamie said.

Jamie says the arts community have been severely neglected in comparison to grants offered to the construction industry.

With developers and constructionas soon as they get touched for two weeks its as if the whole world has fallen down… they’re powered by very wealthy organisations. The arts are organisations that aren’t rich and powerful, they tend to be organisations which are from the community and by the community.”

Jamie is adamant that funding is restored to the arts sector to preserve and protect Sydney creatives.

We need them to not just manage to survive, but to be able to continue to operate during these COVID lockdowns so that when we emerge from the lockdowns, these institutions and people aren’t just on a kind of life support. We want them to thrive and that’s why they need more support,” Jamie said.

“The lack of certainty, especially around art or screen or culture when people are required to turn up to watch or listen or view, means there needs to be this support. It’s just so critical.”

Due to a strong demand for support for the creative sector, the City of Sydney will provide $5 million in grants. An additional $7.8 million in estimated revenue foregone each month will be provided to aid vulnerable communities.

This lockdown recovery package builds on the $72.5 million support package released by the City of Sydney in 2020 for small businesses and the arts community. Donations to communities in need and emergency quick response grants will be made as soon as possible.

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