“The arts have gotten us all through lockdowns and now is the time to be there for them.”
Australian artists could receive an annual salary from the government to create music and art under a pilot scheme proposed by the Greens.
Musicians and artists are still coming to terms with how their livelihoods have been forever damaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many choosing to leave the arts industry for greater stability and security amid growing challenges like debt households and rising inflation continue to threaten those who practice in the sector.
As Australia heads towards federal elections, the Greens have announced a series of policies aimed at strengthening Australia’s arts and culture industries, and recently announced a “living wage” policy for 772 artists, $60 per week.
The policy, which costs $277.5 million, would initially be available to up to 10,000 applicants and provide artists with weekly government funding for a year. Green MP David Shoebridge told the Sydney Morning Herald that the arts sector is a vital economy in Australia, and as things stand offers more jobs than the Australian sports industry.
“Almost 200,000 people work in the arts, that’s four times the number of jobs in the coal mining industry. Imagine a pub without music, galleries without works of art, cinemas without films, bookshops without fiction. Shoebridge Told Sydney Morning Herald.
While the pilot scheme hinges on the 2022 federal election which will result in a hung parliament, acclaimed Australian artists have already pledged their support for the programme, including Mental like anything Mambo musician and designer Reg Mombassa who says the policy could help ensure that writers and artists who contribute to the “cultural life of this nation” are rewarded.
“A modest salary for creatives would be a great way to solve this problem. This would allow many struggling young, emerging or older artists to focus on their work rather than having to scramble for part-time or full-time jobs in order to survive. Mombasa told the Sydney Morning Herald.
At a policy launch event last Saturday, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young stressed the importance of protecting the arts sector post-pandemic.
Many thanks to comedians Andy Saunders and Alexandra Hudson for being part of our @green vegetables Launching Artists Wage today – each of them were funny, caring and insightful – basically they were pretty damn good comedians! pic.twitter.com/PGzu9gmRw0
— David Shoebridge (@ShoebridgeMLC) May 7, 2022
“The arts are an integral part of Australian culture and contribute enormously to our economy. We must do everything possible to ensure that our artists can continue to create,” said Senator Hanson-Young. “The arts have gotten us all through lockdowns and now is the time to be there for them.”