An Arts Sector-specific Rescue Package to Survive COVID-19 #HeartsForArts2020

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Dear HON Josh Frydenberg,

It’s a little bit funny, this feeling inside.

I hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits, during such a peculiar time. 

I’m not one of those who can easily hide.

My name is Tara Del Borrello. I am a full-time professional musician and one of many artists, live performers, and entertainers who has been severely impacted by the economic effects of Covid-19.

I don’t have much money, but boy, if I did…

I am writing to you and your colleagues in the hope that you will deeply consider the number of people, like my friends, who have slipped through the cracks of the government’s new JobKeeper scheme.

I’d buy a big house where, we could all live. (1.5m apart!)

It is my understanding that the JobKeeper scheme is intended to include ALL groups of workers. But due to the nuanced and irregular nature of freelancing, many of those who make their living from the arts-approximately 200,000 people- are still left out.

If I were a sculptor, but then again, no.

This includes artists, performers, organisers, curators, operators, directors, producers, writers, venue owners… all of whom have lost their audiences and subsequently, their only sources of income.

Or a man who makes potions, in a travellin’ show.

Indoor gatherings have been banned, some 65,000 events across Australia have been cancelled, and hundreds of thousands of people are out of work. The music industry alone has lost $340M. My community feels vulnerable. So, I write this letter to you.

I know it’s not much, but it’s the best I can do.

I understand that you and your colleagues are acting fast to protect Australia from more devastation. I also appreciate that you and your colleagues are doing your best. But I implore you to listen harder to the pleas of the Australian arts community.

My gift is my song and, so this one’s for you.

On the 9th April, our sector received only 3% of their ask for a $750M support package. The aviation industry was granted a $715M relief package. In 2016-17, aviation contributed $18B to the GDP, and in the same year, the arts contributed $111.7B. This is not to diminish the value of any industry, but to ask that the arts be valued equally. This plea to be heard comes on top of years of arts funding being cut. We collectively feel undervalued.

I sat on the roof and kicked off the moss.

In Australia, creative industries contribute 6.5% to the national GDP annually, employing more than half a million people and generating $3.2B in export revenue. Live music alone is worth $16B annually, to the Australian economy. I ask that you consider how much we put back into this country. The companies and artists who employ other freelancers, purchase flights, hotel rooms and advertising, and hire cars, publicists, agents and managers, not to mention the live music venues who pay multiple taxes and music copyright licenses. The list goes on.

A few of these verses, well, they’ve got me quite cross.

But this isn’t just about proving our economic contribution. I believe that the arts sector, my friends, contribute far more than just money to this country. We shape its culture. We create history. We facilitate connection. I do not want to see this lost. And I’m sure, nor do you.

But the sun has been quite kind, while I wrote this song.

So we will continue to create art and keep our fellow Australian’s engaged and inspired during this crisis. You’ve already seen our Instagram live concerts, positive social media movements, shifts to learning online, and candid discussions about mental health. When this chaos subsides, we want to see our industry survive. But for that, we need your collaboration. We need your support.

It’s for people like you that keep it turned on.

To ensure that no worker is left behind, freelancers who were in regular work need to be considered full time employees, so that their agent/most regular contractor, can be deemed their employer for the purpose of receiving the JobKeeper subsidy.

To ensure that our industry survives beyond the six months of JobKeeper payments, the government must consider an arts specific rescue package- not loans- to help keep afloat the individuals and entities who fulfil their duty to society within the arts sector. Without venues, we don’t have shows. Without shows, we don’t have audiences and without audiences, our art is lost.

Our whole industry is uniting, and we ask that you stand with us.

Please bring this issue to the attention of Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Oh, and…

You can tell him, that this is your song.

 

Yours Faithfully,

TARA DEL BORRELLO
Freelance Vocalist | Registered Music Therapist
taradelborrello@gmail.com

 

Quoted Lyrics: "Your Song" by Elton John.