Half of Federal arts emergency money remains unspent

Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke delivers the alarming news that have of RISE Federal funding promised is still undelivered, more than a year on.

Shadow Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke has looked at the numbers and at the timeline, and in a statement this week (20 July), delivered the alarming news that the Morrison Government has only rolled out half of the emergency funding it announced for the arts and entertainment industry.

‘Thirteen months ago Scott Morrison and Paul Fletcher enlisted celebrities for a photo opportunity to announce the RISE grants to help get arts and entertainment organisations through the pandemic. Now – more than a year on – Minister Fletcher has confirmed only $100 million of the promised $200 million has actually been spent,’ said Burke.

The Shadow Minister added that the little that has flowed to sector didn’t start rolling out for six month after that initial promise in June 2020.

‘It took more than 100 days for the Morrison government to respond to the desperate calls from the sector for help. It’s been nearly 400 days since he gave his press conference,’ continued Burke.

Applications to the RISE fund – or Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund –are assessed by staff from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications.

At the time Fletcher said: ‘The RISE Fund will provide grants of between $75,000 and $2 million to help restart activities such as festivals, concerts, tours and events once it is safe to do so.’

He added: ‘This will help keep artists, performers, roadies, front of house staff and all those who work behind the scenes employed.’

‘How many more days will these businesses and workers have to wait to get the support they were promised?’ Burke’s question has been on the lips of many, especially as the pressure to survive is ramped up with another wave of closures.

Quick timeline:

Read: (2020) The year that was: COVID and the arts a year on from lockdown

PROMISES GIVE NO SURITY FOR THE ARTS

Burke continued: ‘With 13 million Australians back in lockdown because of the government’s failures on quarantine and vaccinations, the live entertainment sector has once again been plunged into crisis. Festivals, concerts and theatre shows are being cancelled by the dozen.’

‘Now – more than a year on – Minister Fletcher has confirmed only $100 million of the promised $200 million has actually been spent.’

Shadow Arts Minister, Tony Burke

Burke said the new restrictions could add further pressure with reduced numbers indoors across the entire arts and culture sector, for many months. He called the lack of speedy roll out of promised funds as ‘a lethal mix of incompetence and indifference’ by the government.

‘The government has also ignored calls to establish a national COVID-19 insurance scheme for the arts, entertainment and events industry,’ said Burke. ‘That failure means many of the businesses cancelling their events will now be assessing whether or not they can survive to the other end of these lockdowns.’

Read: COVID safety nets for cancelled arts events: some progress, but still vulnerable

Burke concluded that not only has the Federal Government not delivered on its promise of relief to the arts for more than a year, but ‘clearly has no plan to give extra help despite the devastating impact of new lockdowns.’

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