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Live Performance Australia proposes A$345m industry recovery plan

Live Performance Australia has proposed a A$345m (€212m/£190m/$238m) plan to support the arts and entertainment industry recovery following the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The peak body for Australia’s live performance industry has today (Thursday) detailed how its recommended government-funded targeted aid package would be divided up if approved.

“As we enter the 12th week of shutdowns due to the public health response, it’s well and truly time for the Federal Government to get behind Australia’s arts and entertainment industry and deliver a comprehensive and properly funded plan so our world-class industry can get back to work,” said LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson.

She added: “Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry. We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by the government to get our industry up and running again.”

The two-year recovery plan would provide A$90m to a Business Reactivation Fund and A$50m towards capital investments to restart productions and tours.

It also offers A$10m towards support for service providers in the live performance industry and A$10m to ensure COVID-19 safe compliance within the industry.

It would also provide A$25m for a Community Engagement Fund to support regional venues as well as A$20m towards an Australian Music Recovery Fund to catalyse domestic music nationally and to ensure the sustainability of venues and music businesses.

LPA’s proposal would offer A$70m in additional support to the Australia Council, as well as A$55m towards domestic incentives to help Australians reconnect with live performance events via a household e-voucher scheme and A$5m travel incentive programme to attract international visitors.

Richardson added: “Australians have always been great supporters of live performance, and buy more tickets to live performance events than all of our major sporting codes combined. Our proposal for a ‘See it Live’ e-voucher program for households will help them get back to their favourite live performance event.”

The proposal also details support for low-interest loan schemes, a Subclass 408 visa waiver fund, tax incentives for live music venues and productions, and an events contingency fund for emergency support if venues are closed and productions and festivals are cancelled due to another outbreak of COVID-19.

LPA has said A$30m would go towards innovation projects, including A$20m toward a Digital Innovation Fund, which would support the creation of digital content and A$10m for a Technology Innovation Fund to enable firms to enable companies to develop and implement new COVID-safe technology solutions, such as reconfiguring ticketing systems.

The peak body has also joined other entertainment bodies in calling for a six-month extension on the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme beyond the current September end date.

LPA welcomed the government’s recent acknowledgement of the impact that COVID-19 has had on the arts and entertainment industry, but called for “real action backed by substantial targeted investment.”

Richardson said: “It will take time for the live performance industry to rebuild, so we also need to continue to provide income support through programs such as JobKeeper and JobSeeker for industry workers who have been displaced by COVID-19.”

Earlier this week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison hinted that targeted support for the performing arts industry is under consideration, though noted that JobKeeper was off the table.

In addition, leaders from within the industry are calling on the government to allow them to reopen in the spring of 2021 without any social distancing measures affecting audience numbers.

LPA has spoken out in support of a full reopening in spring, with Richardson stating it is a “first priority,” followed by larger events such as concerts and music festivals.