Statement from Arts Industry Council of SA (AICSA)

Friday 12 June 2020

The Australian arts and cultural sector is valued at $111 billion-a-year and employs an estimated 660,000 people. In South Australia, the arts and cultural sector is valued at $686 million, and makes up 2% of all jobs. Reports indicate arts and recreation have been one of the biggest industries impacted by COVID-19 second only to accommodation and food services (Deloitte 29/4/20).

Artists occupations and opportunities have all but seized since the COVID-19 shut-down. It is estimated 470,000 workers in the live performance sector alone have lost $330 million dollars-worth of work (The Australia Institute, 16/4/20). In South Australia, it is estimated that 24.4% of arts and cultural workers have lost their jobs. According to Music SA,  in the six-month shut-down period, South Australia alone will see the loss of 10,000 gigs.

Opening up will face a myriad of major hurdles beginning with the depletion of resources including capital to start-up, the permanent loss of and the likely unviability of opening venues due to social distancing and audience cautiousness and the serious-slow down of the development of new works for up-coming events, festivals and early 2020 seasons.

The Arts Industry Council of SA implores the Australian federal government to support the sector’s and Australian audiences’ call for a $750m industry package.

Support arts, cultural, entertainment and event workers through the transition period

  • Extend JobKeeper and JobSeeker for a further 6 months
  • Ensure JobSeeker recognises the gig nature of arts and cultural employment by qualifying anyone who has held a casual position for 3 months (in the previous two quarters)
  • Recognise that local government and state government statutory authorities are major employers of arts and cultural workers via art galleries and other venues, and allow their workers to qualify for income support via JobKeeper and JobSeeker

Re-ignite the pipeline (via funds to the Australia Council and Screen Australia)

  • A fund to develop new Australian work via grants to artists and small to medium companies
  • Commissioning funds to the events & festivals sectors for new Australian work
  • Acquisition funds to the galleries sector
  • Touring funds for live music and performing arts
  • Contingency funding packages for presentation bodies for the September 2020 to April 2021 period for strategies to mitigate audience and other uncertainties during the transition period: as well as support for additional marketing to encourage arts & cultural tourism both intra and national
  • Business re-activation funds for private companies working with or training Australian artists


Arts and culture is one of the most significant sectors of the Australian economy: a major contributor to GDP, a large employer and an important contributor to tourism. Beyond COVID-19, the sector needs a vision and policy for our arts and cultural life to create a more sustainable and resilient sector accompanied by greater investment.

We call for the on-going doubling of the Australia Council funds for artists and project grants and the small to medium sector which drive the development of new Australian work, services the largest audiences and is the back-bone of Australian national and international touring.

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