In a move to support Australia's paramount arts and entertainment sector, the Federal Government has revealed a $250 million COVID-19 recovery package that will support crucial industry jobs that employ over 600,000 Australians. Providing new grants and loans over a period of 12 months , the targeted package aims to ensure the industry survives the pandemic; supporting the massive $112 billion creative economy.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the grants and loans would help the entertainment, arts and screen sectors to re-build over the next year. "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," he said.
"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."
A ministerial taskforce will also be set up to implement the package, with guidelines for the grants and loans to be released "in coming weeks". The package will include the following:
- $75 million for a competitive grants program to provide capital for new festivals, concerts, tours and events as social distancing restrictions ease. Grants will range from $75,000 to $2 million.
- $90 million in concessional loans to help fund new productions. Loans will be delivered through commercial banks with a Commonwealth guarantee.
- $50 million to help film and television producers who have been unable to access insurance due to COVID-19 to secure finance and restart production.
- $35 million in direct financial assistance for Commonwealth-funded organisations which are struggling to stay viable, including theatre, dance, music, and circus.
Arts Minister Paul Fletcher has also said the Prime Minister would put a proposal to states and territories on when businesses could expect to re-open. "It is very important of course that we work through the pathway for entertainment and creative sector activity to be able to recommence," he said.
Acknowledging the importance of Australia's creative industries, the initiative arrives at a time when many arts sector leaders—along with Labor and the Greens—have been calling for urgent assistance and quick action as the industry faced immediate loss from the pandemic.
Ben O'Hara, the Managing Director and Dean of Collarts, says the decision was a first step towards a sound tomorrow. "Music and the creative industries play a vital role in the economy and cultural lives of all Australians," he said. "We know that the industry will bounce back."