In another week of fatal blows related to COVID-19 and live music, the Aus government's support for the industry is nowhere to be seen.
In the same week the music industry is delivered another fatal blow, the Australian government once again proves it is just not getting it. After announcing the expansion of the RISE pandemic arts rescue fund, which now totals $200million, the recipients of these funds have been confirmed — and the music industry has once again been left behind.
With Queensland just coming out of a snap lockdown the week leading up to the Easter long weekend and major events needing to be rescheduled, as well as Bluesfest in Byron Bay being totally cancelled just 24 hours from opening its gates, all in the same week Jobkeeper has ended and plunged many, many businesses into economic uncertainty, many have raised criticism at some of the latest recipients of the RISE funds.
Namely, The Brickman, aka Ryan McNaught. He has received a whopping $668,000 in the Victorian round of grants in order to create a model of Jurassic World made entirely of LEGO. Now, we’re not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with that, but given the purpose of the fund is to “Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand”, a LEGO model of a fantasy movie is a slap in the face to the many people in the Australian live music industry which is hanging on by a thread. The RISE fund could have prioritised productions that impacted the whole ecosystem: venue staff, sound technicians, stage hands, musicians, guitar techs, caterers and all the other jobs that come together to make a real difference. But at least Scomo gets to show his Grandkid a LEGO dinosaur.
Every single snap lockdown, COVID case scare, restriction change and more impacts the entertainment sector. The Australian music industry has tried time and time again to get back on its feet, and is repeatedly knocked back at every turn. From audience capacities being severely reduced while sporting events were allowed to proceed with thousands in attendance, to no dancing being implemented throughout the country ensuring events that can proceed are not running at their full potential, to even the fact that enforcement of arts events (in particular, music) has been hard and fast as numbers swell at other major events, respective governments across the country have continued to prove time and time again they do not hear our desperate pleas for help, nor do they get it when they try.
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The Australian music industry contributes billions of dollars to the national economy. It is the lifeblood of culture in this country for many. Live music is a transformative experience and without it, many of us wouldn’t be who we are today. Politicians are quick to try and look cool around election time by pretending to DJ or be mates with bands or pretend they know songs their staffers told them about, but when push comes to shove they continue to forget about an entire sector of the economy that cannot survive on its own.
At every single turn, the Australian music industry has dug deep to support where it can. At the start of 2020, many, many artists, promoters, labels and more all went without to be able to contribute what they could to bushfire relief, only to be abandoned not three months later when all our work dried up with no end in sight. It is time for those who care about music -whether it be listening to it in your car on the way to work, going to watch a band with your friends or heading to a festival, or listening to music on streaming services while you’re cooking dinner- to make more noise before we are forgotten completely and cease to exist.
Our industry is hurting, and while I’m sure in other times we’d appreciate a Jurassic World model made out of LEGO, we’re too busy sweating about where our money is coming from and rescheduling events for the umpteenth time to go and visit it.
Words by Emma Jones
Image: Jacob Pedersen for Purple Sneakers