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Arts industry to get $250 million rescue package

The Federal Government has today announced Australia’s arts industry will receive a $250 million package to help it rebuild following the impacts of COVID-19.

A range of new grant and loan programs will roll out over the next 12 months to different parts of the arts sector to support the $112 billion creative economy and the more than 600,000 Australians it employs.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the commercial arts and entertainment sector was one of the first sectors to be impacted by COVID-19 and will be one of the last to come out of hibernation as social distancing restrictions are eased.

“These measures will support a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality,” he said.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions.

“Many in the sector will find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remain in place and while that won’t be easy I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events.”

Minister for Arts Paul Fletcher said the package will deliver jobs and give creative and cultural experiences back to Australians.

“We are injecting $100 million per month into the arts sector through the JobKeeper program and cash flow assistance, delivering an important lifeline for many businesses, but as social distancing restrictions ease, our plan supports businesses getting back on their feet and getting people back in jobs,” he said.

Following the successful development of COVID-19 safe working guidelines to support the reopening of our National Collecting Institutions and the screen sector, the government is working with the Australia Council to develop broader guidelines for the arts and entertainment sector to protect the public and workers.

The PM will also seek approval from national cabinet to give the entertainment industry greater certainty about the timetable for them to be able to re-activate their business, so they can better plan their path forward.

In coming weeks, the guidelines for the grant and loan programs will be released and the members of the Creative Economy Taskforce will be announced.

This plan builds on previously announced measures, including the injection of $100m per month into the arts through JobKeeper and cashflow support over April and May; $10m for regional and remote organisations; $7m to Indigenous Art Centres; $10m to Support Act to assist with mental health and crisis support; the Australia Council’s $5m Resilience Fund and flexible management of existing funding agreements with government.

The package is in addition to the support being provided by State and Territory governments, totalling more than $170m.

The support package includes:

Seed Investment to Reactivate Productions and Tours – $75m in competitive grant funding in 2020-21 through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund. This program will provide capital to help production and event businesses to put on new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models. Grants of varying sizes will be available, from $75,000 through to $2m.

Show Starter Loans – $90m in concessional loans to assist creative economy businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity. The loans program will complement the RISE fund and will be delivered through commercial banks, backed by a 100 per cent federal guarantee.

Kick-starting Local Screen Production – $50m for a Temporary Interruption Fund, to be administered by Screen Australia, that will support local film and television producers to secure finance and start filming again, supporting thousands of jobs in the sector. Filming of new productions has largely been halted as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19. 

Supporting Sustainability of Sector-Significant Organisations – $35m to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19, which may include organisations in fields including theatre, dance, circus, music and other fields. The government will partner with the Australia Council to deliver this funding.

Creative Economy Taskforce – establishment of a ministerial taskforce to partner with the government and the Australia Council to implement the JobMaker plan for the creative economy.

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