The state government’s announcement of an arts sector funding package brings welcome relief to an industry decimated by COVID-19. Rosalind Appleby reports.
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A trumpet fanfare heralded the state government’s announcement today of an art sector relief package. Arts Minister David Templeman announced the $76 million funding package for the arts after being welcomed to the stage by a trumpet solo from West Australian Symphony Orchestra musician Brent Grapes.
The $76 million investment will provide infrastructure and initiative funding to support the arts sector’s recovery from COVID-19.
“Now, more than ever, Australians recognise the role and immense value of culture and the arts in our communities, to bring joy, unify and build bridges between people.” Minister Templeman said.
“Unfortunately, the sector has been hit hard by COVID-19, with restrictions to social gatherings and border closures. I have consulted with the creative, committed and hardworking individuals of the sector and heard first-hand about the complex problems each artform is facing.”
While standing on stage at the Perth Concert Hall the minister announced the iconic venue is set to receive a $30 million upgrade, restoring and redeveloping of the building and forecourts to create an accessible, functional cultural hub connecting the city to the Swan River.
“The Perth Concert Hall is remarkable, the acoustics here are world renowned,” he said. “For the first time the West Australian Symphony Orchestra effectively returns to (the) home it was promised a long time ago; we will deliver that to WASO. And that’s an indication of how highly regarded the orchestra is, not only among our community but nationally and world wide. Our conductor is world renowned but our musicians are world class.”
$15 million of infrastructure funding will also go towards reinstating the original balconies and verandahs at His Majesty’s Theatre with another $6 million for a Jewish Community Centre in Yokine.
Supporting Aboriginal culture is central to the funding, with $2 million towards the planning of the Aboriginal Culture Centre and a further $2 million to go towards the development of online portals for Aboriginal art sales and presentation of performing arts activity.
Alongside the infrastructure projects, the package is also designed to support the return to live music and performance.
$15 million has been allocated to ‘Getting the Show back on the Road’, a shared risk package designed to reactivate live performances and touring. The package includes a $5.65 million venue hire waiver for local performing arts companies for free access to State Government venues, a $350,000 contribution to events delivered by the Western Australian Music Industry Association; and up to $9 million available to underwrite COVID-19 related financial risks for live music and performance.
An artist in residency program in partnership with Lotterywest will allocate $5 million towards employing artists to work with local communities, engaging children and families where COVID-19 has had a negative social, health or economic impact.
The package addresses issues identified through consultation with the sector and has been welcomed by industry support group the Chamber of Arts and Culture.
“As a sector with one of the highest job losses, our key concern is to create opportunities to get people working again,” said Chamber Executive Director Shelagh Magadza. “Supporting the return of live performance will do this.”
Many arts and cultural organisations have already been able to access support through the Lotterywest COVID-19 Relief Fund, and the announcement today extends this support to individual artists and supports broader community well-being.
However Magadza warns that while the concept of drawing together both artistic practice and well-being outcomes is positive, the implementation of the program needs to be carefully designed to achieve both outcomes.
“We also need to ensure that there is ongoing support for artists to create work to put on our stages and in our communities. Now is a time to celebrate the voices of Western Australian artists more than ever.”
Pictured top: Arts Minister David Templeman flanked by Treasurer Ben Wyatt announcing the government’s arts sector relief funding. Photo Rosalind Appleby