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Government unveils $250 million for ‘creative economy’

The Morrison government has announced a $250 million package for the entertainment, arts and screen sectors, which have been particularly hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis.

The grants and loans will be rolled out over the next 12 months.

Activity collapsed in these sectors with events quickly cancelled when the pandemic began and gatherings were prohibited. Many people have not been able to access JobKeeper. Getting work started again will be complicated by ongoing social distancing requirements that will make for smaller audiences.

Scott Morrison is anxious to stress the package isn’t just aimed at helping the public faces.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions,” he said.

Morrison will seek approval from the national cabinet to give the entertainment industry greater certainty about the timetable for enterprises to be able to re-activate their businesses.

The government says the “creative economy” is worth $112 billion and employs more than 600,000 people.

The measures include:

  • $75 million for seed investment to reactivate productions and tours. These competitive grants will provide capital to help production and event businesses to stage new festivals, concerts, tours and events, “including through innovative operating and digital delivery models”. Grants will be between $75,000 and $2 million.

  • $90 million for concessional “show starter” loans. They will assist businesses to fund new productions and events. The loans will be delivered through banks, backed by a 100% Commonwealth guarantee.

  • $50 million to “kick start” local screen production. It will be administered by Screen Australia and support local film and television producers to secure finance to re-start filming. Filming of new productions has largely stopped as insurers are not providing coverage for COVID-19.

  • $35 million direct financial assistance for Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to their viability due to COVID-19. These may be in theatre, dance, circus, music and other areas. The Government will partner with the Australian Council to deliver this funding.

Morrison said the commercial arts and entertainment sector was one of the first sectors hit by the pandemic and would be one of the last to come out of hibernation.

“We’re delivering the capital these businesses need so they can start working again and support the hundreds of thousands of Australians who make their living in the creative economy,” Morrison said.

“These measures will support a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality.”

He said many in the sector would find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remained.

A ministerial taskforce will be set up to partner with the government and the Australia Council to implement the plan for the creative economy.

The government said the package was on top of $100 million a month going into the arts sector through JobKeeper and cashflow support over April and May.

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