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Art experience promoter slams Governments for not releasing committed arts funding

Art experience promoter slams Governments for not releasing committed arts funding
November 11, 2020

Emma Triggs, founder and Chief Executive of The M Agency and M-Live, the promoters of Van Gogh Alive, has noted that it took an enormous financial risk and leap of faith to bring this large-scale digital experience to Sydney and has slammed governments for not releasing their committed $250 million in arts-sector funding.

With Van Gogh Alive having officially attracted over 200,000 visitors since opening in September 2020 in Sydney’s Moore Park Entertainment Quarter, Triggs explained “we have succeeded without a shred of the promised arts-sector funding that is like a mirage in the desert with $250 million tied up in red tape. Imagine what could be done if our governments actually committed funding to fast-turnaround arts projects and provided support for innovative businesses and organisations like ours that are ready to pivot so they can deliver commercially-oriented cultural properties that generate employment opportunities and economic benefit for NSW and Australia?”

The experience has provided solid employment for over 120 arts and entertainment workers and boosted the flow-on footfall and revenues of businesses in Moore Park’s Entertainment Quarter that would have otherwise remained dormant.

The success of Van Gogh Alive proves the demand for quality cultural events provides a boost to the COVID economic recovery.  

As reported by Nigel Benton in Australasian Leisure Management, as of end-October 2020, four months after the Federal Government announced a rescue package for the Coronavirus-hit arts sector, less than 20% of the funding had been allocated - with all monies distributed going to the screen industry.

In June, after months of urging from across the arts and entertainment industry, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the $250 million rescue package.

The funding included $75 million for the live music sector, with grants of between $75,000 and $2 million promised.

However, as reported by Guardian Australia, in Senate estimates last week Government officials initially struggled to provide any precise figure on how much of the pledged emergency funds has been spent.

Challenging Simon Atkinson, Secretary of the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young asked “is it because it’s zero?”

Senator Hanson-Young went on to ask “not much has been spent yet, has it?”, prompting the Department’s Chief Operating Officer, Pip Spence, to assure the hearing that “some money has gone out” but she was unable to provide a figure.

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications returned to the hearing later in the morning with a figure of $49.5 million, less than one-fifth of the total emergency funding announced almost four months ago.

Images courtesy of the Van Gogh Alive immersive art experience

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