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Alex Lahey demands more support from the government for arts and music

Melbourne icon, Alex Lahey is calling on the Australian government to provide more financial support to the arts scene.

The coronavirus has undeniably had a catastrophic effect on the music and arts scenes across the country.

As the lockdowns drag out in states like NSW and Victoria, hope is fast fading for artists whose careers are becoming an ambiguous blur.

alex lahey
Image: Twitter

The government’s ‘generosity’ this time around has already been criticised as handouts are significantly lower than last year, leaving many small businesses in the dark.

Clearly, the arts scene is no exception: an industry amassed of tiny business in the form of independent artists and small labels, the coronavirus and subsequent lack of government support has virtually left it dead.

Enter Alex Lahey.

In an open letter published on Monday, and shared to her Instagram, the musician calls on Prime Minister ScoMo to address the damaging financial shortfall:

“As the demise of the arts and entertainment industry continues, coupled with a proven inadequate vaccination rollout, I want to ask the Federal Government, what is the roadmap for providing support to the entertainment sector?”

“Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes. The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and events, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation.”

Lahey calls on the government to provide necessary support through insurance schemes and a wage subsidy program, scrutinising Arts Minister Paul Fletcher following a situation with touring agency, Lost Motel.

RISE allegedly distributed $44 million across 69 events.

However, only 10 of those have seen suppliers and crew reimbursed.

This means that $6 million and the remaining $38 million: “sits untouched in the bank accounts of the Promoters of cancelled, postponed or entirely unannounced beneficiaries while our industry crumbles.”

Yikes!

Fortunately, in May, the Government changed the rules of its RISE grant scheme that forced organisations who recieved funding to pay their staff and suppliers upfront to avoid losses if a show gets cancelled.

Alas, as Lahey demonstrates, we still have a long way to go.

We definitely need to see arts policy move in this direction, and hopefully, Lahey’s open letter will become the push that’s needed.