Govt planning assistance for arts, screen sectors.

The Federal Government is working on a package to help the arts, entertainment and screen sectors, following the COVID-19 crisis, but keeping details under wraps.

A spokeswoman for Communications and Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said, “Many practical suggestions have been made to the government by sector leaders.”
But a meeting of Australia’s state arts ministers ended in a stalemate last week after the federal government blocked a push to broaden the jobkeeper wage subsidy beyond the planned September expiry.
The government has long resisted calls to expand the eligibility for JobKeeper, even after revelations last month that the six-month wage subsidy scheme was likely to cost $60bn less than originally forecast.

While the scheme has been designed to include sole traders and long-term casuals, the union is concerned that the nature of employment in screen and live theatre leaves two groups of workers excluded from access:

  • Freelance performers and crew who are engaged as direct employees on short-term contracts on a production by production basis but are not registered as a business.
  • Casual workers who have not been with the same employer for 12 months.
Guardian Australia reports ministers also discussed benefits “from its eligibility rules being broadened to support the significant number of organisations, freelance and casual artists and arts workers, and employees of publicly owned or operated arts and cultural facilities that have been unable to access the program”.
Opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, said “The arts and entertainment sector are distraught at them being ignored by this government”.
A spokesperson for the government said it was looking closely at the hurdles the industry faces as the economy starts to reopen.
“Getting the industry open again doesn’t just mean jobs for performers or artists, it would mean jobs for crew, for front of house, for people in ticketing and security and marketing and promotions,” they said.“And when people go to shows they go to bars and restaurants and they might well book a hotel room if they have travelled to see the show – so there are spin offs into activity and jobs in sectors like hospitality and travel.”

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