Creative industries call for an $850 million stimulus package as estimated shutdown periods increase

Creative industries call for an $850 million stimulus package as estimated shutdown periods increase

Arts Centre Melbourne State Theatre
State Theatre
Words by Kate Streader

Shutdowns could last for up to six months.

Yesterday, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher hosted a virtual roundtable with peak cultural and creative sector bodies to discuss the impacts of coronavirus on Australia’s cultural and creative industries.

Offering insight from members of National Collecting Institutions, the live performing industry, Indigenous Art industry representatives, the Australia Council and visual arts organisations, amongst others, the roundtable looked to assess the extent of the crisis while seeking possible solutions.

“A number of practical suggestions were put forward during our discussion,” said Minister Fletcher following the discussion. “The information I obtained today from this roundtable will feed into whole of Government planning on COVID-19 responses.”

While details surrounding what those suggestions entail are yet to be revealed, it’s clear that financial support from the government will be essential in keeping creative businesses, and the sector at large, afloat.

Live Performance Australia Executive Director Evelyn Richardson called for an $850 million stimulus package, stating the coronavirus shutdowns will cost the industry hundreds of millions of dollars, with closures set to span up to six months rather than the initially estimated four-week period.

“Hearing from sector after sector about the devastating loss of income and employment for their members and communities was incredibly sobering,” Nicole Beyer, Executive Director of Theatre Network Australia, told ArtsHub following the conference.

“It painted a picture of a sector in free-fall, with hundreds of millions of dollars of lost income, just in the next month, let alone the long term, and hundreds of thousands of jobs and gigs lost. There is no doubt many organisations will close forever, as so many of them do not have capacity to withstand these losses,” she added.

Today marked more grim news, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison enforcing a blanket ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of over 100 people, posing problems for smaller-scale events as well as live music and entertainment venues.

With thousands of doctors urging the government to action strict lockdowns, there’s no telling what further measures might be taken in the days and weeks to come.

Tune in tomorrow for an update.