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PAC Australia highlight Coronavirus threat to ongoing viability of performing arts centres

PAC Australia highlight Coronavirus threat to ongoing viability of performing arts centres
March 19, 2020

Performing arts peak body, PAC Australia, has highlighted that performing arts centres across the country are dealing with the prospect of ongoing, long-term shutdowns, with an Australia-wide extension of the ban on events and gatherings.

PAC Australia Executive Director Katherine Connor advises that the "ban on indoor gatherings and events for 100 or more reduces the ambiguity for many venues as to whether they can remain open, however our primary concern is the venues that will be unable to re-open without substantial new investment and the major impacts on community life in towns and regional centres in every state and territory.

"We have surveyed venues across the country and the data so far indicates that the loss of income combined with direct unbudgeted expenses may drive many performing arts centres to shut down permanently and many more into significantly reduced programs and community engagement well into future years.

"The (130+) arts centres and venues in our membership are critical community infrastructure in towns and suburban areas large and small. When we come out of this crisis they will be essential meeting places for community recovery - if they survive as non-profits and businesses.

"Performing arts venues are major employers, massive contributors to their local economies and community's wellbeing and are the very organisations programming the work that will keep the arts alive into the future. For some, postponement of shows will push their 2021 programs further back; for others the costs of cancelling current programs will have to be absorbed into future years. The flow on effect will be immense.”

PAC Australia is working with other service organisations and industry groups to ensure their members, are kept up to date with the evolving response to Covid-19. PAC Australia also provided information from their research in advance of the Minister's Round Table earlier this week and is speaking directly with the Federal Arts Department about immediate responses to the closures.

Connor added "one of our priorities is for direct funding to be provided to presenters around the country for future programming, allowing presenters to provide ongoing work to touring companies and artists once isolation measures are no longer in place.”

PAC Australia's call, alongside Live Performance Australia and other industry groups, is for a range of immediate emergency support and ongoing recovery assistance measures including:

  • Provide greater national clarity around the projected timeframe for the public health response to coronavirus, including when venues and companies can anticipate preparing to resume operations
  • Expedite immediate access to income support for industry participants who have lost employment or income due to venue or event closures, including casual workers and sole traders
  • Funding to assist in the continued support for casual and contract staff in the form of wages or financial assistance
  • Extend all current government funding arrangements for the next 12 months to minimise disruption to existing companies
  • Provide a cash injection to the performing arts sector to enable them to meet cash and reserve shortfalls that will confront them in the next three months
  • Provide additional funding to the Australia Council to fund all organisations that were assessed as worthy of funding in the four-year funding review process
  • Repurpose and bring forward the allocated $22 million Live Music package to be spent over the next 12 months
  • Direct budget support for the duration of this financial year for all live performance businesses impacted by event and venue closures to enable continuity of their operations and employment levels throughout the shutdown period and to ensure viability for recovery in the future
  • Provide additional funding to Support Act to provide crisis support to the sector
  • New funding to enable performances to be delivered through innovative online or digital platforms

Image: Dubbo Regional Theatre, recipient of PAC Australia's Drover Award for Performing Arts Centre of the Year 2019 (Image used for illustrative purposes only

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19th December 2019 - PAC Australia announces merger of key national performing arts events

9th September 2019 - Touring regional performing arts to receive $1.6 million federal funding

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