(THE REPLY TO THIS LETTER IS BELOW)
Dear Minister Fletcher
CircuitWest brings together a sector that builds and reflects community and cultural life. First and foremost, CircuitWest stands for inclusive, thriving communities, enlivened with rich cultural expression and engagement. CircuitWest makes a difference through its leadership – articulating the value of the performing arts and its role in increasing wellbeing at individual, local, regional and State levels. CircuitWest is also a ‘critical friend’ to the professionals in the sector – enabling them to continuously strive and grow in their understanding and application of best practice. Last but not least, CircuitWest has a pathfinder role – identifying and addressing systemic issues to ensure the sector is moving forward as a whole. CircuitWest is the service organisation for the performing arts in Western Australia and amongst many roles convenes WA Showcase, TechWest and provides Tour Coordination services for Western Australian artists and companies within Western Australia. CircuitWest represents Presenters, Producers and Artists and has strong ties with Local Government.
I am writing to you today in light of the recent announcements by Government and in your role as Arts Minister to ask that you bring the voice of the sector to the table in Cabinet in relation to any stimulus and strategies that are being developed. The Arts and Culture sector and in particular its independents, casuals and freelancers are some of the most vulnerable in the economy – yet we bring much to the economy and to the wellbeing of the communities that we serve.
We realise that each sector has its own challenges and the Government will work hard to achieve the best outcome for the nation – but we know sometimes that arts and culture voices are not always heard or considered. My intention is not to write a long email but to be quick and to the point and to also say that whatever assistance we can offer, we gladly will offer it. We are also a NFP so are making plans for our own continuity
All the best in these challenging times.
|COVID RESPONSE Office of Hon Paul Fletcher MP Minister for Communications Cyber Safety and the Arts|
(THE REPLY TO THIS LETTER IS BELOW)
COVID RESPONSE Office of Hon Paul Fletcher MP Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts
Dear Mr Taaffe
Thank you for your email to the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the arts sector and CircuitWest. I am responding on behalf of the Minister.
The Government understands that the impact on the arts sector is extremely serious. All of us who care about the arts in Australia find it distressing to see museums and galleries closed, productions halted, and artists, performers and other arts sector workers out of work. COVID-19 is having unprecedented effects on communities in Australia and around the world. The Government’s highest priority is that people are safe and are being supported.
Minister Fletcher is consulting closely with the arts sector to understand impacts and inform whole-of-government planning on the COVID-19 response. A virtual arts roundtable has been held with peak creative and cultural organisations to hear directly about how they are responding to current challenges, as well as their suggestions for support measures. In addition, the Office for the Arts and the Australia Council are holding a weekly COVID-19 support workshop with peak arts bodies. Minister Fletcher is also working with state and territory Arts and Cultural Ministers on responses to this unprecedented event.
The Government is delivering substantial economic support across the economy, which will be very important for supporting workers and organisations in the cultural and creative sector. Economic measures include support for individuals, including casuals and sole traders, assistance for businesses to keep people in work, and regulatory protection and financial support to keep businesses in business. The Government recognises the economic, social and cultural importance of the cultural and creative sector. Cultural and creative activity contributed $112 billion (6.4 per cent of GDP) to Australia’s economy in 2016-17. The particular effects of COVID-19 on cultural and creative activity are evident and continue to be considered as part of the national response.
The Government’s economic measures are helping to maintain business confidence, support investment and keep people in jobs. A total of $320 billion, equivalent to 16.4 per cent of GDP, in economic measures will enhance the nation’s safety net for individuals and businesses. Further information is available at www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus. A COVID-19 Business Liaison Unit has been established to assist businesses affected by the situation. The Unit can be contacted by email at TreasuryCOVID-19Coord@treasury.gov.au and by phone at 13 28 46.
The Government’s economic support includes:
- Providing $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee for up to 6 months for eligible businesses under the JobKeeper Payment. The payment will also be available to the self-employed.
- Temporary doubling of the Jobseeker allowance and waiving the asset test and waiting period. Payments are available to sole traders, the self-employed, casual workers and contract workers who meet the income tests.
- If arts workers are unemployed, been made redundant or had their income or hours reduced by 20% or more, they can get early tax-free access to their superannuation, capped at $10,000 this financial year and $10,000 next financial year – up to $20,000 in total.
- Small and medium businesses and not-for-profit organisations (including charities) in the cultural and creative sector may be eligible for cash flow assistance to support them continuing to pay employees and other bills, up to a maximum of $100,000 with a minimum payment of $20,000.
- Not-for-profit arts organisations may also be eligible for Deductible Gift Recipient status, and those that are registered as charities may be eligible for Income Tax exemptions, Goods and Services Tax concessions, and Fringe Benefits Tax rebates and exemptions.
- The Government will provide a guarantee of 50% of new unsecured loans to small and medium businesses.
- A temporary increase to the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond.
- On 25 March, the Treasurer was given a power to amend provisions in the Corporations Act 2001 for six months. The Act was also amended to provide temporary relief for directors from any personal liability for trading while insolvent because of COVID-19.
In addition to the national economic response, the Western Australian Government, like all state and territory governments, is implementing their own targeted response. Further details are available at: www.wa.gov.au
This is a rapidly evolving, unprecedented situation and careful consideration is needed for any further measures to protect the Australian community. I encourage you to keep up to date with Government advice as it is published at www.australia.gov.au. You can also get up-to-date information on the Federal Government’s Coronavirus Australia app, available at:
- the App Store (apps.apple.com/au/app/coronavirus-australia/id1503846231)
- Google Play (play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=au.gov.health.covid19)
- the Government’s WhatsApp channel (https://api.whatsapp.com/send?phone=61400253787&text=To%20learn%20more%20about%20COVID-19%20in%20Australia%2c%20press%20the%20send%20button%20%e2%86%92&source=&data=).
Please also check the Office for the Arts website for further information at www.arts.gov.au.
Thank you again for writing and I hope this information is of some help.
COVID-19 Arts Taskforce
Office for the Arts
Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
2 Phillip Law Street, Canberra ACT 2601
GPO Box 2154 Canberra, ACT 2601