Member Update 31|08|20
ALMBC representatives met with the office of the Federal Arts Minister, Paul Fletcher MP on 27|08|20.
We were able to raise many of the suggestions raised by members, either via our facebook group or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is worth noting that as the meeting was with the Minister’s advisor there was an acknowledgement that many of the topics raised would require subsequent follow up and response from the Minister himself.
It was pleasing to hear that the Minister has a genuine interest in learning more about the nuances of the live music sector and to uncover the unique challenges we face. To that end we have secured a commitment to a regular fortnightly catch up to continue to work through the challenges – something we are grateful for given the nature of a landscape that is in flux.
Our discussion was centred around the following topics:
Creative Economy Task Force (CETF)
We confirmed that whilst it is disappointing that the ALMBC were not directly included on the taskforce, we have opened dialogue with appointed CETF members Paul Piticco and Dan Rosen as a conduit for raising matters pertinent to the Australian live music industry, particularly the needs of SMEs and sole traders who are currently in significant financial distress. We have also asked about the scope of activity CETF members will engage in, particularly with reference to other initiatives like LMA and RISE.
Based on feedback from the ALMBC membership we submitted that we understood the $250 Million JobMaker package was clearly developed at a time that pre-dated the current levels of state and national border closures and restrictions. We advanced the notion that whilst these initiatives are valid in those circumstances, our concern is that with events and live music activity still largely on hold for the foreseeable future, much of this funding would therefore be on hold as well and that sector needs more immediate direct support.
Following are some more specific matters raised re JobMaker:
- We noted many of our members, not being producers or creators, were not eligible to benefit directly from grants directly and suggested the guidelines include a preference for using the services of local sound and lighting companies as an alternative to “purchasing or leasing essential equipment for events such as sound or lighting equipment” as per current eligibility guidelines.
- We also noted that one of the key objectives of the RISE program is to “generate increased economic activity in the arts and entertainment sector and allied industries “, many of our members are not likely to see the benefit of the activity given they are significantly further along the supply chain in the ecosystem
- Even if some business are able to benefit as a 3rd party to a successful grant program, there is a very real threat that their businesses won’t survive the cumulative losses between now and the end of the year, setting up a very real supply issue. Without the ability to trade or plan for economic activity due to ongoing border closures, the effectiveness of the stimulus package to members who need support is extremely limited.
Show Starter Loans vs Revenue Contingent Loans
- We relayed feedback from members that there is very little appetite in accessing the loans both from a commercial decision making perspective or more practically, whether they would even succeed in securing these loans.
- We also raised the prospect of Revenue Contingent Loans for consideration as an option for providing working capital that can be re-paid as and when businesses return to health.
Whole of Economy Approach
We provided the Minister’s office with feedback that the whole of economy measures like cash flow boosts and JobKeeper have certainly helped however against a backdrop of zero revenue for the foreseeable future these measures would not be enough to cover mounting operating costs, leaving many businesses now on or fast approaching a financial “cliff”.
There was genuine interest in wanting to know the true nature of the crisis. The Minister’s office has suggested that any data we can provide to help quantify the scale and nature of the financial concerns in our sector will be extremely useful in helping shape their understanding of current state of affairs.
We have committed to providing the output of our own anonymised member surveys, looping the Minister in on other research activity occurring in the sector as well as contributing our insights to research the department is undertaking in this space – whether as part of the recently announced Parliamentary Enquiry or other initiatives.
Biosecurity Travel Bubble
We re-confirmed our views that being able to tour artists and engage in activity in states where live music is possible remains one of our core "survival" objectives. It was pleasing to hear that the Minister, along with other departments are also advocating for an increase in carefully managed, cross-border economic activity.
We provided an update on the efforts of our members in West Australia to engage the State Government there in the concept of music industry specific inter-state touring plans, consistent with the precedents that have been established by other industries. We passed on our thanks to the Minister for his ongoing support on this matter and any efforts the Federal Government can make in working with the states to provide a much needed national roadmap.
Finally, We acknowledged that The ALMBC is one of a number of industrial lobbying bodies seeking to provide proactive input into the Government’s response to impact of the pandemic. To reiterate, it was clear to us that there is a genuine undertaking on the part of the Minister to continue to engage with us to understand the needs of our members and the wider live music industry. We have agreed to a fortnightly update with the Minister's office and to engage in direct communication with the Minister and other portfolios.
We will continue to provide feedback to members on our efforts in this space and welcome your ongoing support and insights.