This chapter examines the evidence received in relation to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the arts and entertainment sector; outlines the reasons submitters provided for their support of the bill; and the range of government support provided to the sector.
The chapter concludes with a committee view and recommendation.
Impact of COVID-19
The committee received a range of evidence in relation to the impact of COVID-19 public health measures on the live performance sector in Australia. The committee heard that the sector has seen a significant loss of revenue and employment opportunities through the cancellation and postponement of performances across the country. The committee was however, reassured to note the sector has shown the capacity to recover in the absence of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research (BCARR) analysed single touch payroll data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on creative and performing arts at a national level, and arts and recreation services at a state level.
The data showed that the number of jobs in creative and performing arts nationally has fallen since June 2021, a period associated with the impact of restrictions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Employment in the arts and recreations services in New South Wales fell to its lowest level during the week ending 14 August 2021. Other jurisdictions including Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory have had more modest declines over the period from the week ending 26 June to the week ending 14 August 2021 while Western Australia and the Northern Territory have experienced slight increases.
The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications (the Department) noted that employment in arts and recreation services in New South Wales has been particularly affected, with a decline of 31 per cent since the week ending June 26 2021 compared to an 8 per cent decline in employment across all industries in New South Wales over the same period.
The Venue Management Association (VMA) noted that the Economic Contribution of Australia's Live Entertainment Industry – How Has COVID-19 Impacted the Industry Report conducted by EY was released in November 2021. The report found that of the estimated 122,000 full-time equivalent jobs that were supported by the live entertainment and sport industries pre COVID-19, an estimated 79,000 (65 per cent) were lost in 2020. Further, 'the Live Entertainment Industry contributed an estimated $36.5bn to Australia's economy in 2019, with that contribution falling by approximately 64% to $12.8bn in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions'.
Several entertainment and arts sector businesses reported to the committee that they had experienced significant financial losses during the pandemic. For example, Opera Australia noted that from 26 June 2021, it has been unable to perform, postponing 300 performances and forgoing $36 million in lost box office sales.
Similarly, businesses such as EVENTelec, a family-owned and operated business providing specialised temporary electrical distribution and power overlay for major events, festivals and the live music sectors, stated that:
Since 13th March 2020 we lost over 90% of our confirmed events/work, 70% of our staff and experienced a revenue loss of over $4.Smillion and this continues. Our staff and management have been on 3 days a week wages for 18 months until recently when we started to rebuild.
Unfortunately, due to the current lockdowns and closed borders we have gone back to square one looking at a 3rd financial year loss whilst trying to hold onto staff. Our business cannot rebuild without trained industry technicians. The toll financially is difficult on a small business, the mental health stress is a continuous challenge and battle for us to manage not only ourselves but the wellbeing of our staff and their families that continue to commit to our industry.
Festival promoters and producers such as Fuzzy Operations noted that prior to the pandemic the company was achieving 'revenues of more than AUD40 million in the 2019/21 financial year, and employing and contracting over 5,000 people to work at our festivals annually'. However,
…the pandemic has virtually wiped out our entire revenue with none of our re-occurring festivals occurring in the last 18 months. This has also meant that nearly all our contractors have not been employed by us during this time. It has meant that we have gone from a highly profitable business that has contributed significantly to the economy to a loss-making company in one year due to the pandemic.
The Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC) submitted that an anonymised member survey conducted in September 2020 found that 70 per cent of business members surveyed were predicting the closure of their businesses within the next six months based on cash flow projections and government support measures. The survey also found that 73 per cent of members reported a revenue downturn of 75–100 per cent in the six months prior to the survey. The ALMBC stated:
The vast majority of ALMBC members are now navigating an industry that is at $0 (zero) revenue with mounting operating costs and the potential for an imminent supply chain collapse. They are businesses that were doing exceedingly well before COVID-19, operating in a very healthy buoyant industry that has proven time and again to be largely recession-proof.
Similarly, the Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA AMCOS) submitted that:
The music sector fell off a cliff on 13 March 2020 when the Australian Government made the correct and prudent decision to shut the nation down. Without the ability for artists to play and venues to open around the country, the industry lost billions of dollars in revenue.
Eighteen months into this pandemic and the latest APRA AMCOS data shows national live music activity is at just 9 per cent of pre-COVID times. A survey through I Lost My Gig found that 28,000 gigs were cancelled nationwide over a four-week period from 1 July resulting in nearly $84 million in lost income.
Mr Michael Coppel, Member, Executive Council, Live Performance Australia; and Chairman, Live Nation Australasia, described the impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the live events industry:
In the last year, more than half of the event dates we have worked on have been rescheduled, reconfigured, postponed or cancelled, with a quarter of the events planned cancelled outright. We've tried to tour Australian artists mainly, because we have not been able to bring international artists into the country. We have gone through lockdowns; we have gone through socially distanced seating. The requirements have changed midway through a production. We have had three shows in a city where every different night has been a different seating configuration, requiring us to contact every single one of the 2,000 ticketholders per night and reseat them, leading to about one-third of those people wanting refunds rather than attending the performances.
Submitters particularly highlighted the impact that COVID-19 restrictions have had on regional events. For example, Strawberry Music Group stated that 'without an insurance fund, regional, greenfield and large scale events will be most affected'. It explained:
Many will likely disappear, and the recovery of the events industry will be delayed for as long as it takes for COVID to no longer cause disruption to events. This class of events (which includes not only Strawberry Fields but also some of Australia’s best known festivals as Bluesfest, Splendour in the Grass, and the Woodford Folk Festival) have the most burdensome cost structure of any live music event (as is often reflected in the ticket price)…Whereas one day urban or venue based events can promote or change a date with a short lead times and minimal financial outlay, regional and greenfield events are subject to many more constraints.
The Department submitted that the sector has shown the capacity to recover in the absence of COVID-19 restrictions. It noted that the ABS single touch payroll data shows that, nationally, employment in creative and performing arts fell significantly in the period when COVID-19 restrictions were applied in the first half of 2020. However, when these restrictions were lifted, there was a steady recovery in creative and performing arts employment at a national level, returning to pre-COVID-19 levels in early 2021. Dr Stephen Arnott, Acting Deputy Secretary, the Department, told the committee:
The analysis leads us to think that, once we get through this delta period and once we have the vaccination rates and the reopening as per the national transition plan, we would see a similar bounce back in jobs in the performing arts.
The committee also notes that BCARR found the level of creative and performing arts employment based on the data for the week ending 14 August 2021 was higher than the lowest employment registered since the beginning of the pandemic and over the period of the first wave of COVID-19 response measures (in March-April 2020), indicating a level of recovery in the industry.
Support for the bill
Submitters provided support for the bill for a range of reasons including that it would provide 'greater industry confidence to reactivate live events' and that such confidence would allow the 'market to commit to longer term planning, thereby facilitating the industry's recovery and fast tracking its ability to contribute to the Australian economy and productivity'.
APRA AMCOS stated that 'the adoption of a government-backed insurance scheme together with a sustainability package is key to providing certainty for the Australian live music and entertainment sector'. Similarly, Festivals Adelaide submitted that:
An accessible and responsive Insurance Guarantee Fund will be critical to mitigate risk in the absence of relevant private cover. A nation-wide scheme, coordinated between federal and state governments, will serve to protect the survival of arts festivals, live performance and music, cultural events and venues, which seek to play a proactive part in economic adaptation, recovery, and renewal.
MusicACT told the committee that:
This live performance federal insurance guarantee fund bill is the right initiative at the right time, its need is urgent as our nation now grapples with numerous plans and support measures to speed our reopening and recovery. This fund will inject confidence and it is a proven to work initiative now established in other countries.
Live Performance Australia also noted that the industry requires lead-in times of between six and 24 months to plan and book tours, and that 'without the ability to insure against cancellation or business interruption, there is no appetite to plan and book tours' which would push 'major events into late 2022-early 2023'. Ms Evelyn Richardson, Chief Executive Officer, Live Performance Australia stated:
As we look to 2022, the need for an insurance scheme is now urgent. Without the support, we expect to see a much lower volume of investment and economic activity, certainly next year, and, for those companies that take the risk, business interruption scenarios could see us lose large chunks of what is already a significantly depleted sector.
Live Performance Australia noted that throughout the COVID-19 pandemic it has advocated for the establishment of an insurance scheme. Further, in November 2020 it presented the Australian Government, and state and territory governments, with a detailed proposal for a:
Live Entertainment Business Interruption Fund, estimated at $100-$500 million based on six risk scenarios. LPA reviewed costings for the three-year period (2021-2023) based on two risk scenarios with an estimated range of $130-$200 million.
The committee received a range of evidence in relation to the types of insurance relied upon by the live performance sector and the reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic has not been covered by existing schemes.
The committee also heard evidence detailing programs implemented by state and territory governments to underwrite events and provide compensation in the event of cancellation.
Event cancellation and business interruption insurance
As noted in Chapter 1, the live performance sector has previously relied on two forms of insurance:
event cancellation insurance which provides coverage for the loss of revenue or committed expenses due to circumstances outside of the organiser's control, such as extreme weather events or non‑appearance of a performer; and
business interruption insurance which protects losses in profits caused by an interruption due to a specific insurable event, and which can be used to cover the ongoing costs of business operation.
Strawberry Music Group stated that 'event cancellation insurance has always been an operational cornerstone for our industry'.
However, the Department noted that 'pandemic risks, particularly those relating to business, have traditionally been viewed as largely 'uninsurable' by insurers, due to the global spread and magnitude of potential losses and the challenges of modelling the risk and offering coverage at an affordable price'. The Insurance Council explained:
Insurance products are highly complex and are set according to an in-depth understanding of the nature of the risk, the probability of the risk involved occurring, the likely loss that would be experienced and the financial and regulatory factors that may affect the provision of insurance in the economy.
The insurance industry has long maintained that pandemics, including Covid-19, are not intended to be covered under most business interruption policies. Premiums were not collected by insurers to reflect the cost of cover for pandemics, reinsurance was generally not available for pandemic cover, nor were reserves established for pandemic-related claims.
In discussing this issue, Ms Mohita Zaheed, Assistant Secretary, Financial System Division, Department of the Treasury, told the committee that:
Insurers have not underwritten COVID or any other pandemic. Ordinary insurance policies have an exclusion that says infectious diseases—and there are various technical terms that we don't need to go into—are excluded as the source of any interruption. The short answer is that, by and large, pandemics have not really been part of insurance contracts not only in Australia but also globally across the market, by virtue of the nature of the risk.
While the lack of pandemic insurance was characterised as a 'market failure', the Department of the Treasury described it as a 'gap in the market' and emphasised that 'not all risks are insurable risks in the economy when you are looking at insurance as a product'. The committee also notes the evidence that for some parts of the arts and entertainment sector, a lack of insurance coverage is not a new issue. For example, Mr Christopher Bendall, Chief Executive Officer, Critical Stages Touring, told the committee that:
The insurance industry is not well-suited to the small to medium, not-for-profit live performances arts sector at all. Cancellation for entertainment events, for works of our scale [inaudible] are rarely insurable events. The cost would outweigh the benefit.
State and territory schemes
As discussed above, some witnesses told the committee that a national insurance scheme is required. However, witnesses such as Mr John Watson, Ambassador, APRA AMCOS, and Artist Agent, Eleven Music also acknowledged that state and territory governments should also contribute. Mr Watson stated:
These are national issues and they require the help of the national government, which is not to say that the states should not also be forced to play a role, given that they control most of the things that we're talking about as issues.
The Australian Government is of the view that state and territory governments are best placed to provide cover against the risk of business losses in the arts and entertainment sector caused by decisions made by state and territory health authorities.
The Department noted that states have already begun to act in this area. For example, Tasmania and Western Australia have implemented programs since late 2020 to address interruptions in the live performance industry due to restrictions. They are as follows:
Tasmania's $2 million Live Performance Support Program focuses on live entertainment and the arts, providing a guarantee in the event of cancellation or significant changes due to restrictions; and
Western Australia's $9 million Getting the Show Back on the Road Program is a 'shared risk' underwriting program that funds a percentage of box office income loss due to restrictions. The program covers the broader commercial events industries, including regional tourism and agriculture.
Other states and territories also provide direct support to the live entertainment and performing arts sectors through schemes which provide ex post relief aimed at compensating businesses after a financial loss, such as:
New South Wales' Performing Arts COVID Support Package provides $75 million in urgent financial support to performing arts venues, producers and promoters impacted by the cancellation or postponement of performances resulting from the NSW Government COVID-19 Public Health Orders from 26th June 2021.
Victoria's Events Support Package provided $20 million to event organisers, hosts and suppliers as they manage the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including up to $250,000 to major event organisers, hosts and suppliers who have suffered a loss as a result of the recent restrictions that began in late May 2021; up to $25,000 to eligible event organisers and up to $10,000 to eligible suppliers; up to $7000 to presenters of cancelled live performance events and a $500 grant per event for up to four different events for suppliers of goods and services to live performance events, including musicians and performers.
South Australia's Major Events Support Grant will provide grants of up to $100,000 for large cancelled or postponed events, where attendees at the event were expected to be greater than 10,000, recognising the significant costs incurred with large events. In addition, the COVID-19 Small Business Hardship Grant is jointly-funded with the Australian Government will deliver about $15 million in support to an estimated 3,500 local businesses, including those in the performing arts and creative artists.
Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF)
In June 2020, the Australian Government introduced a scheme to support the screen sector. The Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF) provides assistance for new local productions which would be unable to start production due to production insurance exclusions relating to COVID-19.
TIF covers instances where a production needs to halt due to a key cast or crew member contracting COVID-19. It covers loss to the production due to the death, injury or illness of a named individual (capped at 10 individuals) arising out of contracting COVID-19. Named individuals are limited to key cast, the director(s), the producer(s) and Heads of Department.
TIF does not cover instances where a production is halted due to lockdowns or other COVID-19 related health restrictions, that is, decisions by a state or territory government that prohibits access to a facility or property.
As of September 10 2021, 69 productions have been able to proceed due to the cover provided. None of these productions have incurred losses due to COVID illness of named cast or crew.
The Department noted that the live performance industry has called for a similar arrangement to cover interruptions due to lockdowns for live performances. However, the Department explained that there are key differences between the live performance and screen sectors.
Namely, live events are not generally interrupted due to COVID-19 sickness, as there are already contingencies in place for live performance as standard practice across most of the live performance sector. For example, live performances such as theatre and musicals employ understudies in their cast as contingency for when lead performers are unable to perform. Multi-act concerts and festivals schedule alternate acts to cover such losses of personnel. Prior to 2020, touring events with headline acts such as Jimmy Barnes, Paul Kelly and John Farnham were a minority among all live performance events.
The Department also noted that the majority of screen productions have minimal to no interaction with public audiences, whereas live performances require audiences to be present – often in close proximity while engaging in other activities such as eating, drinking or dancing.
Though it has been argued that the measures proposed by the bill would be similar to the TIF, the Department highlighted that the TIF:
…does not cover lockdowns and does not cover health restrictions for screen production. It only covers the risk that a key cast member or key creative crew member contracts COVID and the production can't proceed, and the costs associated with that. It doesn't provide any cover if the state closes down a production due to health restrictions or COVID.
Dr Arnott, the Department, explained that the TIF provides coverage for the screen sector in the event of illness, 'because people contracting COVID is beyond anyone's control'. Dr Arnott explained:
The screen production sector's financing model was threatened by the pandemic, not due to lockdowns and venue restrictions but due to the possibility of key cast and crew contracting COVID. Investors weren't willing to put in the funding for that.
In contrast, live performance events having to be cancelled or postponed occurs as a result of decisions made by state and territory governments. Dr Arnott stated:
Locking down states and reducing venue capacity is a matter for state health authorities and state premiers. So that's the action of a state government, whereas someone contracting COVID as part of a screen production is just a possible eventuality that we deal with in the reality of a pandemic.
Internationally, governments have implemented various measures to support activity and confidence in the sector. These include both underwriting and direct funding support for the sector. For example the United Kingdom (UK) implemented a government-backed underwriting or reinsurance scheme whereby the UK Government guarantees the COVID‑19 risk component of existing insurance policies provided through private insurance schemes.
The Live Events Reinsurance Scheme worth £750 million (approximately AUD$1.4 billion) involves the UK Government partnering with insurers in the Lloyd’s market to allow organisers to be able to purchase cover for government-enforced cancellation due to COVID-19 restrictions, alongside their standard insurance. While generally well-received by the industry, many British performing arts organisations were dissatisfied that the scheme only covers events cancelled due to lockdowns and does not cover financial losses due to social distancing or reduced capacity restrictions.
Similarly, Germany’s €2.5 billion (approximately AUD$3.9 billion) Coronavirus Cultural Fund (Kulturfonds) consists of two components – a subsidy to supplement ticket sales where restrictions limit the number of participants; and an underwriting scheme to cover up to 80 per cent of the cost of an event where there is cancellation, postponement or reduction in participant numbers.
Though witnesses pointed to such international schemes as a model for Australia, these countries have markedly different geographical and jurisdictional arrangements when compared to Australia. For example, Dr Stephen Arnott, the Department noted that 'the situation in the UK is quite different' to Australia. Notably, 'there's not that second layer of government' in the UK. Dr Arnott explained:
The national government there [in the UK] is responsible for funding and supporting the performing arts sector, but it's also responsible for how the health restrictions and lockdowns play out. They are the single decision-maker on these matters, whereas here we obviously have different layers of government making decisions at different levels.
Supporting the arts and entertainment sector
The Australian Government recognises the economic, social and national importance of the arts and entertainment sector, and closely monitors the ongoing disruption to the sector caused by public health orders.
Whilst the committee notes the support for the bill offered by witnesses and submitters who participated in this inquiry, it also notes the significant funding and support provided to the sector by both the Australian Government and state and territory governments. This funding has been crucial in supporting the sector. Mr Stuart Watters, ALMBC, told the committee:
I'd really like to acknowledge the unprecedented levels of support that the live music industry has received to date. Traditionally the music industry, being entrepreneurial by nature, hasn't necessarily had much of an intersection with government in terms of funding. It hasn't needed a huge amount. It's always welcome.
The Australian Government has increased the $250 million Creative Economy COVID-19 support package announced in 2020 to $475 million. This package is in addition to the $750 million the Australian Government invests each year in core arts funding, as well as funds provided to the sector through its broader COVID-19 response measures.
The Creative Economy COVID-19 support package includes the following:
$200 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund which continues to provide funds to arts and entertainment businesses to stage festivals, concerts, tours and events, including through innovative operating and digital delivery models, and provide increased employment opportunities, including retention of artists and skilled workers in the arts and entertainment sector and allied industries.
Up to $90 million in Australian Government guaranteed loans under the Show Starter Loan Scheme which was delivered through participating banks and assisted eligible arts and entertainment businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 to access finance for new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity.
$50 million Temporary Interruption Fund which continues to support local film and television producers to secure finance and keep filming, supporting thousands of jobs in the Australian screen sector.
$50 million COVID-19 Arts Sustainability Fund which continues to provide direct financial assistance to support significant Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19.
$40 million to the charity Support Act to continue to provide immediate crisis relief to artists, crew and music and live performance workers across the country, including extending the Wellbeing Helpline to the entire creative industries sector and offering a dedicated helpline for Indigenous artists, crew and music workers.
$20 million Supporting Cinemas Retention Endurance and Enhancement of Neighbourhoods (SCREEN) Fund to provide business continuity support to independent cinemas. The Fund is expected to support up to 390 cinemas across the country through the significant economic, health and social impacts they are experiencing as a result of COVID-19.
$11.4 million Regional Arts Tourism package to promote and develop cultural events for tourists across regional Australia, grow audiences at festivals across regional Australia and promote creative and cultural experiences in regions that have been hard-hit by the pandemic.
$10 million for the Regional Arts Fund which has provided artists and arts organisations in regional Australia with access to additional funding to develop new work.
$5 million for Playing Australia Regional Recovery Investment to support performing arts touring in regional and remote Australian communities as they rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the Creative Economy Taskforce provides advice and support to the Australian Government on the creative economy, particularly as Australia rebuilds from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department submitted that 'all of these measures will support the $115 billion contribution made by cultural and creative activity to Australia's economy, and the more than 645,000 Australians employed'.
The Department also noted that businesses, organisations and individuals across the live performance sector have also benefited from the Australian Government's substantial economy-wide stimulus measures, including JobKeeper, COVID-19 Disaster Payments and business support payments.
Alongside COVID-19 specific measures, the Australian Government continues to provide support to the Australian music industry through a range of measures, including the following:
The Australian Music Industry Package which includes $30.9 million in funding over five years, from 2019-20 to 2023-24, to support the industry and bring more live music to Australian communities. The Package includes the Live Music Australia program, the Women in Music Mentor program, the Indigenous Contemporary Music program, funding to Sounds Australia and the Contemporary Music Touring Program administered by the Australia Council.
The Live Music Australia program which is designed to bring more live music to Australian communities and support quality original Australian live music that is professionally staged, with a focus on small to medium venues. Funding will enable businesses to build/rebuild their capacity for programming activity as restrictions are lifted and venues reopen, increase performance opportunities for original contemporary music by Australian artists, and support partnerships, collaboration and networks across the Australian live music industry.
Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand Fund (RISE)
As noted above, the RISE Fund is a $200 million program established to provide finance to assist arts and entertainment organisations in the presentation of cultural and creative projects, activities and events. Dr Stephen Arnott, Acting Deputy Secretary, the Department told the committee:
The RISE Fund has been designed to provide funding up-front to finance up to 50 per cent of productions proceeding. We've committed $160 million already out of the $200 million that has been allocated. That money is either out in the sector or contracted to go out into the sector. We're seeing those productions being scheduled to recommence. They were happening very successfully before the delta outbreak. The vast majority of them have their rescheduling plans either locked in or underway for the rest of this year and the first half of 2022. That up-front funding is financing those productions and giving them the confidence, as I think you've heard today, to commence production. In addition, we've got the sustainability fund out there. The minister has just made an announcement of another $6.5 million being allocated. That is looking after those key nationally supported companies to continue to operate during what we all acknowledge is a very difficult period.
RISE is delivering on its objectives of supporting economic activity and employment and has been welcomed by the sector. The Department noted that despite the disruptions and rescheduling of projects, the vast majority of RISE projects are underway.
The RISE Guidelines outline the eligibility requirements for entities and projects applying for funding. In response to feedback from the sector, the RISE Fund guidelines were updated in May 2021 to require grant funds to be passed on to third parties identified in funding agreements prior to the staging of events, rather than withholding payments until after the event. This change ensures that should an activity not proceed because of COVID-19 restrictions, the artists and suppliers still receive an income during the pre-production and planning phase of a project.
The Department noted that in the event where a RISE funded project has been affected by lockdowns, most projects have sought to reschedule, rather than cancel. When events are cancelled due to COVID-19 public health restrictions, the Office of the Arts within the Department, works with funding recipients to process contract variations as required, and does not seek the re-payment of grant funds for costs that are incurred during pre-production.
RISE funding is also enabling organisations and events to develop COVIDSafe measures, reshape their delivery, and provide employment and facilitate the retention of skills for artists, arts workers, and production personnel.
The committee notes the evidence from witnesses regarding the importance of RISE funding to arts and entertainment organisations. For example, Mr Jay James-Moody, Artistic Director, Squabbalogic Independent Music Theatre, stated:
Squabbalogic very gratefully received a stable grant of $850,000 to develop and produce four new works over the next two years, through the government's RISE Fund. We're incredibly grateful to have been recognised and supported through that fund.
Mr James-Moody also told the committee that a benefit of RISE funding has been the recognition of small to mid-sized organisations. Mr James-Moody stated that 'these…organisations are the real bedrock of live performance in identifying and supporting emerging artists of the future'. Mr James-Moody concluded:
Through the RISE funding we received we now have substantial capital available to us for our work, which makes an enormous difference to an organisation of our size. We are anxious to spend it so that it will continue to help build our future capacity as well. As a small organisation, we very much understand the value of a dollar and have become adept at making our limited resources stretch as far as possible.
Ms Evelyn Richardson, Chief Executive, Live Performance Australia, told the committee:
We very much appreciated the RISE funding that was provided by the Commonwealth that was intended to assist us to kickstart the industry, which it did. In March this year, we had all of our theatres back at 100 per cent and we were looking to fully reactivate around now—we had that gap in Q2 and Q3, where we had to get the live music sector through. Government recognised that and extended the RISE funding, and that was designed to assist companies to get through this so that we could be operating by now.
Mr Ross Macpherson, Director, Macro Music, and Board Member, ALMBC, commended the government for the support provided through the RISE Fund. Mr Macpherson explained that RISE funding has:
…given us the confidence to plan a festival for April next year here in WA, and we're using this grant to pay 50 per cent non-refundable deposits to artists and suppliers who need it most and need it immediately. These deposits mirror pre-pandemic conditions and support a large part of our sector.
The past two years have been an extremely difficult time for the arts and entertainment sector. The committee wishes to note the resiliency, innovation, and creativity of the sector navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic.
The committee notes the significant funding and support which the Australian Government and state and territory governments have provided to the sector over the past two years. The committee is also reassured by the evidence that in the absence of public health orders such as lockdowns and travel restrictions, the arts and entertainment sector has shown the capacity to recover.
This bill would require the Australian Government establish a fund which would provide insurance against a government action–that is, the action of a state or territory government making a public health order which would necessitate the cancellation of an event.
The committee is of the view that any insurance against the action of a state or territory government is a matter for such governments.
The committee does not recommend that this bill be passed.
The committee recommends that the bill not be passed.