The McGowan Government has launched a $77 million Safe Transition Industry Support Package to support businesses and individuals in sectors most affected by the decision to delay the full reopening of Western Australia’s borders.
The Chamber of Arts and Culture WA has welcomed the funding, which will support the tourism and events industries among others, but called for greater clarity on the eligibility and criteria of the package.
In the events sector, ticketed events are eligible for support through the new package, which may bring some comfort to the many artists at Perth’s recent Fringe World who were impacted by the delayed reopening of the WA border.
Additionally, the Chamber said an Arts and Culture Recovery Investment Plan is needed to address the impact on non-ticketed creative programs that have made a loss due to COVID restrictions and the uncertainty that has been created with the continued closed border, and to ensure the viability and sustainability of the sector.
‘We welcome this package that will support the losses incurred by the education, tourism and event sectors due to the delay in opening the WA boarder,’ said the Chamber’s Executive Director Kim Jameson.
‘It is also time to support non-ticketed events, programs, creative workshops and the activities of galleries and museums. These venues, programs and events serve a major role in the well-being of communities and have also been financially impacted by the government’s decision to delay the border opening.’
What’s in the package?
The $77 million package includes a $10 million extension and expansion of the Getting the Show Back on the Road Program, which will cover up to 75% of lost ticket sales where a State Government mandate directly requires an event to be cancelled; self-cancelled events linked to the border delay decision; and eligible substantially scaled back events that proceed.
It also includes a $3 million Event Suppliers Support Program, which provides payments to eligible event suppliers for ticketed events with $10,000 grants for sole traders, $20,000 for small businesses and $50,000 for large businesses with pre-COVID annual turnover of more than $1 million.
The cancellation of free events, such as Perth Festival’s large scale opening event Escape (which was to be presented across multiple sites at Fremantle’s Bathers Beach and Victoria Quay and involve hundreds of artists, staff and volunteers) do not appear to be eligible for the Safe Transition Industry Support Package.
The $77 million package also includes $48 million for the tourism sector to offset the impact of the delayed border opening.
In total, nine separate support programs are included in the package, supporting the international education, tourism, aviation and events sectors.
While support for cancelled events because of WA’s delayed reopening is welcomed, the Chamber noted that government mandates are not the only reason events have been, and will be, cancelled.
‘We have seen and expect to continue to see audience hesitancy in purchasing tickets for events even a couple of months into the future because of uncertainty. Strong early ticket sales are important when organisations assess the viability of a planned event,’ said Jameson.
The Chamber, in partnership with its members, is about to undertake a health check of the sector that will not only inform the level of financial support required to mitigate loss but will articulate the well-being of staff and organisations across the State.
The Chamber hopes that this will demonstrate the depth and breadth of the sector whilst outlining the financial and emotional support required to support a sector that has been drained by two years of the pandemic to date.