Live Performance Australia has developed a $345 million plan to help the live performance industry restart, rebuild and reopen for audiences following the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The plan includes capital investment in performing arts companies and productions to help them restart, extending income support to businesses and individuals to retain jobs, and incentives to encourage Australians to return to live performance events.
“As we enter the 12th week of shutdowns due to the public health response, it’s well and truly time for the Federal Government to get behind Australia’s arts and entertainment industry and deliver a comprehensive and properly funded plan so our world-class industry can get back to work,” said LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson.
“We welcome the Morrison Government’s acknowledgement of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the arts and entertainment industry, but it’s now time for real action backed by substantial targeted investment,” Ms Richardson said.
“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry. We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again,” Ms Richardson said.
The LPA plan includes a $90 million Business Reactivation Fund which includes capital investments to restart and market productions and tours; support for service providers to the live performance industry (such as production and technical businesses, stage-hands, riggers, video, sound and lighting specialists); a Community Engagement Fund to support regional venues to get local communities engaged and to develop work; an Australian Music Recovery Fund; and funding to help the industry operate in a ‘COVID safe’ way.
The LPA plan also features digital and technology innovation; $70 million in additional support for the Australia Council; domestic incentives to help Australians reconnect with live performance events through a $55 million ‘See It Live’ household e-voucher scheme and travel incentives to attract international visitors to attend live events in Australia.
“Australians have always been great supporters of live performance, and buy more tickets to live performance events than all of our major sporting codes combined. Our proposal for a ‘See it Live’ e-voucher program for households will help them get back to their favourite live performance event.
“It will take time for the live performance industry to rebuild, so we also need to continue to provide income support through programs such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker for industry workers who have been displaced by COVID-19,” Ms Richardson said.
The LPA two year recovery plan also includes longer-term initiatives to support the growth of the Australian live performance industry, including tax incentives for pre-production costs and live music venues; an Arts and Entertainment Loan scheme to encourage investment in commercial product; the waiving of visa fees for international touring performers; and a contingency fund to support events which may be impacted by future restrictions due to COVID-19 outbreaks, in particular locations that require a targeted public health response.
“Our $4 billion dollar industry will be a major driver of economic activity, jobs and cultural tourism recovery. Our number one priority is getting our venues open and our people back to work. We look forward to working closely with governments at all levels to make this happen in the coming months. Getting our theatres open in spring is our first priority followed by our larger events such as concerts and music festivals. Our Kiwi cousins are back in theatres in the next two weeks with no physical distancing, so we believe our September timeframe is very achievable”, she said.