Media Release, Theatre Network Australia.
3 April, 2020.
Theatre Network Australia (TNA) acknowledges that the decision the Australia Council for the Arts has made is the best it could do, in order to keep as many small to medium arts organisations operating as possible. But we are deeply saddened to hear of many highly celebrated organisations which have lost their funding.
TNA has been consistently advocating for an increase in the funding for the Four Year Funding for Organisations program, after our modelling showed that only around 90 of the current 124 organisations would be supported, if additional investment wasn’t found. With COVID-19 necessitating stimulus responses from the government, TNA has argued that funding all shortlisted organisations would create at least 200 new equivalent full-time jobs, and 1500 casual and part time jobs. This would be in addition to securing the existing 650 equivalent full-time roles these organisations support.
TNA’s Executive Director, Nicole Beyer said: “While we had hoped that the arts stimulus package would be announced before today, allowing the Australia Council to fund more organisations, the Australia Council’s decision to reduce the first year of funding to successful organisations, in order to throw a life-line to others is the best it could do with its existing funding.”
“This keeps more companies going for another year, but still leaves many organisations in precarious positions.”
“An additional year is precious time to begin to plan for what will be needed when the full COVID-19 measures start to be loosened. It allows companies to keep some staff on and keep some arts businesses going.”
“However not all the currently funded organisations have been given that extra year, and there are hundreds of other small to medium organisations who already missed out at the Expression of Interest stage. With the added burden of having to close for several months or more, there is no doubt that we will see a huge percentage of companies closing forever, over the next few months, and with them, hundreds of thousands of arts jobs will be lost. The arts sector could face irreparable damage without additional support”.
“Now is the time for the government to announce its major arts stimulus package for arts companies of all sizes, and for independent practitioners and sole traders. The breadth and depth of the losses in performing arts sector is huge, and over the last fortnight we have been left reeling after company after company closed. A stimulus package will ensure that these are just temporary closures.”
TNA has joined with several other peak bodies over the past weeks calling for a significant stimulus package for the arts. A 2% package of $2.2billion, for a sector that contributes $111billion to the economy would save companies, save thousands of jobs, and save the infrastructure of a sector so that we are ready for reactivation as the nation emerges from COVID-19.
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