Australian live events group urges “immediate intervention”

Live Performance Australia (LPA) has ramped up calls for “urgent federal government intervention” as it warned of closure for many arts organisations across the country despite new funding being announced.

The peak body for Australia’s live performance industry welcomed the Australia Council for the Arts’ announcement of four-year funding for the sector, with 144 arts organisations to receive a share of A$31.7m per annum between 2021-24 following an application process completed before the Covid-19 outbreak. The Australia Council has also announced it is directing approximately A$5m to a Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief through grants to the Australian arts sector.

However, the LPA said the absence of any additional funding from government for 2021-24 and decision to extend some groups’ grants by an extra year has had the knock-on effect of other organisations seeing their grants cut or removed entirely.

LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, said: “Live Performance Australia congratulates those companies that were successful in their application for four-year funding. More than ever, we need them now and into the future.

“However, we are deeply concerned that so many companies have been negatively impacted by the announcement, particularly those who have only been offered a 12-month reprieve as well as those that have not been successful in securing any funding at all.”

The “numerous casualties” from the funding changes and Covid-19 include La Mama in Victoria, Australian Theatre for Young People in Sydney, and Australasian Dance Collective in Queensland.

Richardson noted that the repurposing of existing grants programmes can only do so much, and claims that it is not enough in the current crisis.

She added: “The impact of Covid-19 on our industry is massive. The Australia Council needs urgent additional support. Our venues and companies need urgent support. Without it, our venues won’t open, our companies won’t be here in six months’ time.

“After the crisis has passed, the wipe-out of our arts and entertainment sector will reverberate through other parts of the economy, such as the hospitality, tourism and transport sectors.

‘’Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no hibernation for our performing arts and entertainment companies. Rather, they are looking at termination.

“These significant employers and providers of cultural and community entertainment will be long gone before they are called upon to support the important rebuilding phase for our economy, our regional and metropolitan communities, and our nation.”

Australia Council chief executive Adrian Collette said, according to ABC: “We were working with the Government on a package that might have meant more for four-year funding, but in these circumstances that was a conversation that really did get overwhelmed.

“There will certainly be some [companies] that will face insolvency and they’re the ones we really have to focus on during the next three months or so.”

The A$5m Resilience Fund is designed to provide emergency relief to support the livelihoods, practice and operations of Australian artists, groups and organisations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three options it offers are the Survive fund, which provides small grants for individuals, groups and organisations to offset or recoup money lost due to cancelled activity. Individuals and groups can apply for up to $2,000, while organisations can apply for up to $5,000.

The Adapt fund provides grants for individuals, groups and organisations to adapt their arts practice and explore new ways of working. Individuals and groups can apply for up to $10,000, while organisations can apply for up to $20,000.

Finally, the Create fund offers grants for individuals, groups and organisations to continue to create artistic work and/or develop creative responses in this time of disruption. Individuals and groups can apply for up to $10,000, while organisations can apply for up to $20,000.