Australia’s visual artists, craft practitioners and designers call for urgent, fair access to COVID19 support in an open letter to Government
Image: Tony Albert, House of Discards, The National 2019, Carriageworks. Photo by Zan Wimberley.
Internationally renowned artists Tony Albert, Maria Fernanda Cardoso, Blak Douglas, Janet Laurence and Khaled Sabsabi today join hundreds of artists, curators, academics, publishers, artsworkers, and leading art galleries and museums in an open letter to the Australian Government.
This week, Australia’s contemporary arts, craft and design industry welcomes MPs back to Parliament with the call to act now to ensure fair access to COVID19 income support measures:
“We are around five hundred of Australia’s artists, curators, installers, technicians, artist-run spaces, galleries, art museums and sector organisations. Together, we represent memberships of over fifty thousand practitioners. Together, we create the experiences that search your emotions, heighten your curiosity and reframe your expectations.
“Our work draws on the oldest and richest traditions we have, expands our thinking, and creates new possibilities. Through our work, Australians find compelling new ways to understand our world and create our future.
“We’ve come together to ensure that a thriving visual arts, craft and design industry can survive COVID19 to inspire the nation – and that means supporting our work right now.
“Our work is relied upon by millions of Australians. Visual arts and craft are Australia’s most popular artform, and visiting art galleries and museums is the most popular arts activity for overnight visitors to capital cities, according to Australia Council research – which makes our work vital to economic recovery in a world without international tourism.
“Now that restrictions are being eased and announcements made about galleries and museums re-opening, we understand how easy it might be for you to think that everything’s fine now. It’s not.
“Across Australia, in just one year, we create 26,000 works of art, present 13,000 exhibitions and events, and teach 15,000 workshops and classes, according to the most recent NAVA S2M: The economics of Australia’s small-to-medium visual arts sector. Right now, all of this work is under threat, right when millions of Australians are relying on us the most.
“Tens of thousands of livelihoods are at stake because JobKeeper, JobSeeker and the business cash flow boost were never made available across the arts sector.
“We applaud the Australian Government for listening and responding to public demands for a wage subsidy and business cashflow support. We applaud the Treasurer for making adjustments in response to calls for fairer eligibility for non-profit organisations.
“Today we reiterate the calls we have made across three months now – both as individuals, and as a united industry – for that support to be made available to all of us.
“Unless income support is available to everyone whose creative work is casual and short-term across multiple employers, it will take years for the industry to recover. Over 70% of artsworkers in our field are employed on a casual basis, according to the most recent NAVA S2M Report.
“Unless local government and universities are able to claim JobKeeper and the cashflow boost, Australia will lose valuable pathways to professional practice, and our finest galleries and museums will be jeopardised, especially regionally, where audiences will suffer most.
“Unless the Australian Government acts now, Australia’s entire economic recovery will be undermined – we can see from the Australia Institute’s analysis just how much that recovery relies on our work.
“To assess the full impacts and plan next steps, the National Association for the Visual Arts is bringing the industry together for a summit on 16 July. By that day, we hope they’ll be assessing constructive impacts and not cataloguing irreparable damage.
“We urge you to act now: