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Member Bulletin
TNA Member Advocacy Bulletin – March 2021

Dear TNA Members, A bigger bulletin this quarter, of the federal advocacy work TNA is involved with, or stuff we know about, or information which might be useful.

Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions or things to contribute.

Warm regards,
Nicole Beyer and TNA team

Federal Inquiry – Will it recommend an Arts and Culture Plan?

On 26 August 2020 Arts Minister Hon Paul Fletcher MP asked the Standing Committee to inquire into and report on Australia’s creative and cultural industries and institutions.

The terms of reference for the inquiry included: The direct and indirect economic benefits and employment opportunities (and measures); The non-economic benefits that enhance community, social wellbeing and promoting Australia’s national identity (and measures); The best mechanism for ensuring cooperation and delivery of policy between layers of government; The impact of COVID-19 on the creative and cultural industries; and Avenues for increasing access and opportunities for Australia’s creative and cultural industries through innovation and the digital environment.

349 submissions were received, and the Committee has now held four days of public hearings. You can read the transcripts of the hearings here.

TNA’s analysis of the Inquiry is that it may offer a useful tool to help our collective advocacy. We are aware that Minister Fletcher takes the Inquiry seriously (he called for it), and that there is a strong chance that the resulting report will be bi-partisan – that is, one that all party committee members agree on.

A strong theme across the hearings was that an Arts and Culture Plan could address many of the terms of reference. Our colleagues at A New Approach presented this idea at hearings on 13th Nov and 19th Feb. TNA and others encouraged colleagues giving evidence to support this idea, and it had a strong uptake. Read A New Approach’s submission for more details. Download TNA’s submission here.

New Arts Adviser for Minister Fletcher

Last month TNA was pleased to meet the new federal Arts Adviser to Paul Fletcher, Lexi Sekuless. Lexi has a background in theatre, with previous experience as a performer, a vocal coach, a consultant and a key figure behind Canberra’s Shakespeare by the Lakes. Lexi has also had government experience including working in the office of George Brandis, a former Arts Minister. Lexi says she is aware of some of the strengthening work that needs to happen, and seems very open to working with TNA and other peaks on that work.

As part of our introduction to TNA, we tabled our 2020 Report on the Working Trends of Independent Artists and Creatives which showed, amongst other things, the impact of COVID on independent practice – 77% of respondents experienced a devastating impact. Download the PDF 52 page Report.

Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund

The federal RISE Fund has now allocated $60m of the total $75m to 115 projects. TNA congratulates the 30 TNA members who have received a grant so far. Many of the small to medium companies who missed out on Four Year Funding last year have managed to secure a RISE grant. However, this does not provide secure ongoing funding, so TNA continues to call for an investment in the Australia Council of $25m per year for four years.
RISE still has $15m left to allocate.

Another federal fund which was part of the $250m rescue package, is the Arts Sustainability Fund which provides necessary finance to plan a pathway for recovery from the effects of COVID 19 – for “significant Australian Government funded arts organisations” only. On Friday a second round of four organisations were announced as receiving over $4million with a total now of eight organisations in receipt of over $13million.

Australia Council update
TNA is in ongoing discussions with colleagues at the Australia Council to monitor the progress of initiatives such as the Reignite consultation, the National Touring Scan, and the new National Performing Arts Framework. Where possible we urge promptness and also clear communications with the sector. When we have information to share we will pass it on!

JobKeeper ‘Cliff’ – Calls for a continued targeted wage subsidy
TNA joins other peak bodies in calling for a continuation of JobKeeper for the arts and entertainment sectors, or for a similar targeted wage subsidy for the sectors which continue to be badly impacted by the COVID restrictions, including tourism and the arts. We called for this in in our pre-budget submission in January, at the NSW PAC hearing into the government’s handling of COVID (18 Sept, 2020), and we have been consistently arguing that 2021 will be financially harder, if support is not continued.

Some of the coverage of this issue (by TNA and others).
TNA Pre-Budget Submission
The Guardian
Arts Hub
Limelight Magazine

Nicole Beyer (she/her)
Executive Director, Theatre Network Australia

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