AICSA calls for an additional $10m SA State Govt investment in survival and recovery


The latest jobs data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, released on Tuesday 16 June, shows that COVID-19 job losses in Arts and Recreation in South Australia have been dramatic:

– One in three people have lost their job since March 14;
– Job losses increased in May rather than reducing;
– South Australia has a highest percentage of arts and recreation job loss and wage loss in the nation.

Additionally, these figures are likely to be conservative as ABS data does not account for self-employed artists trading with an ABN. Further analysis of the ABS data is available here:

Gail Kovatseff, Chairperson of Arts Industry Council SA (AICSA) said today, “These figures are alarming, and they confirm what many in the arts and cultural sector intuitively knew already. Our industry is facing a major crisis.”

Ms Kovatseff added, “Arts organisations and venues were some of the first to shut down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; necessary social distancing requirements mean they will be some of the last businesses to completely reopen; and at least one in three people have lost their job in our industry in South Australia. The figures are even worse for low income women in our industry.”

To date there has not been a substantive, general Federal Government package announced for the arts and cultural sector, and many workers in the sector have missed out on accessing JobKeeper. The impact of COVID-19 has come on the back of devastating cuts to the arts by the Federal Government since 2013.

“At a time when billions are being invested into jobs and COVID-19 economic recovery, the lack of Federal investment in a labour-intensive industry such as arts and culture is astounding. Recent research by The Australia Institute shows that for every million dollars invested in the arts you get nine jobs; compared, for instance, with construction where every million creates between 0.9 and 1.3 jobs”, said Ms Kovatseff.

“The South Australia Government responded early with a $2.5million package of emergency funding for independent artists and organisations, support to arts-run mental health initiatives, as well as a high level of communication with the sector and advocacy to the Federal Government. We thank the Government for this response which was one of the quickest in the nation”, she noted.

However, AICSA believes the State Government should make an additional $10 million investment in the survival and recovery of the South Australia’s arts and cultural sector.

Representatives from AICSA made this case at the Legislative Council of South Australia’s Budget and Finance Committee on Monday morning 22nd June.

In other Australian states, arts survival and recovery packages announced have ranged in the vicinity of $50 million (New South Wales, $6.63 per head of population), $49.1 million (Victoria, $7.72 per head of population), and $42.5 million (Queensland, $8.38 per head of population).

The arts and cultural sector in South Australia needs an immediate new investment of an equivalent size, a minimum of $10 million (bringing the State’s total COVID-19 arts response package to $12.5 million, $7.50 per head of population).

These funds should be directed towards five goals and priorities:

1) Enabling artists to continue to make artistic works in South Australia. Substantial new grants programs, commissioning funds and income relief have been a key feature of some State packages in the absence of such an initiative from the Federal Government.

2) Assisting organisations, venues and festivals to reopen in a way that is commercially viable whilst enabling them to mitigate risk, encourage audiences to return, and prioritise investment in new work by South Australian artists.

3) Assisting those who have lost their employment including many casual employees who were employed by statutory authorities and Government-owned entertainment venues who are not eligible for JobKeeper.

4) Strategies to encourage audience confidence and return, and to market the arts and cultural tourism.

5) Continuing to implement South Australia’s new Arts Plan with additional investment.

“The arts industry both here and nationally is facing a dire crisis due to the impact of COVID-19, and government needs to act fast. Investment in the arts creates jobs, assists low income workers, contributes to other parts of the economy including tourism and hospitality, and keeps South Australia an attractive place to live. Arts and culture are very important to the experience, wellbeing, economy and brand of South Australia”, said Ms Kovatseff.