Alex Lahey pens open letter to Prime Minister, appealing for financial support for Aussie arts industry
16.08.2021

Alex Lahey pens open letter to Prime Minister, appealing for financial support for Aussie arts industry

The letter sees Lahey appeal for insurance scheme and wage subsidies for the industry

Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Alex Lahey has penned an open letter to directly Prime Minister Scott Morrison, calling for an insurance scheme and wage subsidies program to assist in the recovery of Australia’s bleeding entertainment industry.

What you need to know

  • Alex Lahey pens open letter to Scott Morrison demanding financial support for the arts sector
  • Lahey questions what the Federal Government’s roadmap is for providing support to Australia’s entertainment sector, addressing issues she claims arts workers are faced with
  • Lahey has proposed the Morrison government implements an insurance scheme and wage subsidies program for the arts and entertainment industry

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Lahey’s letter intends to advance the conversation about providing a roadmap for support to workers in the entertainment sector, who are currently without income for the foreseeable future due to the effects of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and subsequent restrictions and border closures.

“Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have known and acknowledged that the arts and entertainment industry would be the first to go down and the last to come back,” Lahey starts the letter.

“Despite this awareness, very little had been done by our Federal Government to prop up this multimillion-dollar, world-class commercial sector, which finds itself decimated after a year and a half of closure with no end in sight.”

Lahey further questions the Government’s roadmap for providing support to the sector, acknowledging necessary lockdown measures but addressing the thousands of gigs cancelled.

“As the demise of the arts and entertainment industry continues, coupled with a proven inadequate vaccination rollout, I want to ask the Federal Government, what is the roadmap for providing support to the entertainment sector?

“Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes. The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and events, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation,” she continues.

“But despite the turmoil we face as a collective and as individuals within our industry, Federal Government promises continue to be broken and schemes have been left behind.

“The Federal grants program structure has failed to prop up our industry – the trickle-down intentions of this scheme have not come to fruition, leaving performers, crews and venues empty handed.”

Lahey also addressed the ineffective distribution of RISE grants,referencing a letter sent to Minister for Arts Paul Fletcher by Sophie Kirov of Lost Motel, arguing that in four rounds of RISE funding, Contemporary Live Music has received $44 million in funding across 69 events, but that only 10 of those have been seen to execution and suppliers and crew being paid. Only 3% of the total $200 million in RISE funding has been “disseminated downstream” to live music businesses, it argues.

Lahey also proposed a Federal Government-led insurance scheme and wage subsidies program for the arts and entertainment industry which is essential to secure a future for the country’s arts industry.

“Without funds getting directly to the artists, performers and crew members throughout this crisis, the industry is eating into itself, running the risk of leaving our country void of a generation’s worth of live performance talent and crew,” she writes.

“There need to be structures in place that ensure prompt and direct reparative financial support for businesses and individuals in the event that gigs, tours or festivals cannot move forward due to outbreaks.  Further to this, a wage subsidy system will allow for workers and performers to make ends meet during inevitable capacity restrictions as we emerge from lockdowns.

“This system will keep venues alive; it will keep performers on stage, it will keep crew in jobs – and most importantly, it will keep our rich, vibrant and unique performance culture flowing throughout the veins of our country.

“The creative community has been stood down and overlooked. But it’s time for us to stand up and call out for what we need. I hope our government will listen and come to our aid,” Lahey concludes.

Read Alex Lahey’s open letter in its entirety here.