Arts and entertainment workers will continue to need support once lockdowns are lifted
The reopening of venues in Australia’s two largest cities must be accompanied by targeted income support and venue capacity subsidies to help deal with the effects of audience restrictions even after lockdowns end, says the union for arts and entertainment workers.
The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance welcomes the lifting of Sydney’s lockdown today and the planned reopening in Melbourne later this month but warns this will not mean an immediate return to work for most people in the arts and entertainment industries.
The union is alarmed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s intention to terminate COVID disaster support payments within weeks, which will leave tens of thousands of arts and entertainment workers without a living income once again.
A targeted form of the disaster support payments must be maintained for those sectors of the economy that are unable to return to full capacity with the lifting of lockdowns, said MEAA Chief Executive Paul Murphy.
“It’s great news that the lockdown has been lifted in Sydney today and fully vaccinated people will be able to begin attending gigs, shows and events over coming weeks,” Mr Murphy said.
“Equally welcome is the additional details released by the Victorian government about the staged reopening of outdoor venues in Melbourne.
“But the reality is the National Cabinet’s modelling tells us that the industry’s struggles will continue while audiences are limited into 2022, yet COVID disaster payments are due to end when we reach 70% full vaccination – a milestone that will occur well before we can fully reopen our industry.
“To remove the COVID disaster support payments while so many people are still unable to earn an income will be devastating for a sector of the workforce who have arguably suffered more than any other during the pandemic with venues shut and shows cancelled all over the country.
“These workers are struggling to hold on.
“We call on the Prime Minister, Treasurer and the National Cabinet to National Cabinet to work with us to create a safe and reliable plan for reopening.
“This plan must include:
• Income support for workers and venue capacity subsidies to help deal with the effects of audience restrictions even after lockdowns end.
• Event cancellation subsidies and COVID insurance for live events.
• All Australian governments to do the right thing and sign on to our $250 minimum fee for musicians.”