Updated: Jul 27
Way back in March, which seems like forever ago, one of the first industries to be hit by the lockdowns was the arts.
Keeping in mind I am talking about the arts industry, which isn't just defined by the people that you can see. The arts also encompasses thousands of people who work behind the scenes both literally and figuratively. The arts and creative industry is worth $111 billion to the economy and employs around 600,000 people Australia-wide. Because people in this industry work across a range of roles and in different capacities such as contractors, freelancers and casuals the Federal Government's JobKeeper program was not able to support a large swathe of workers in this sector.
So what does this mean locally? It means that now and into the future, artists and people that work in the creative field will need a lot more support in creating the entertainment, amusement and the critical reflections of life that we as a community derive from having a vibrant arts sector and that they derive a living from.
The Moreland City Council has recently committed to the arts grants program by continuing grants for both individuals and organisations throughout Covid-19, if elected, this is definitely something that I would make sure that the Council continues to support. Council has also announced that it is developing a community artist in residence program - I want to make sure that this program is both suitable, not only for performance art, but other creative art forms that represent the community. I want to see this program empower people to create art and add to the diverse stories of Moreland. This program should not just be a Covid-19 recovery strategy, however it should be an on-going aspect of building community and telling stories of life in modern Australia.
I've been an enthusiastic performer for most of my life, and in the last six years I performed as a part of a local comedic improv company, being able to perform and delight audiences is a thrill, and as mentioned, it allows us to tell stories of our shared experience. I recognise the importance of arts to the community but also to the individual. It's often an industry that is much enjoyed by people, however often the last to receive funding.
The lockdown has proved to us all that we have turned to the arts as a form of comfort or entertainment and that is evident in the huge jump in subscriptions that streaming services have seen. However, let's not forget there are other aspects of the arts that also need our patronage. bookshops, galleries, museums, theatres and cinemas with their myriad of staff and suppliers have also lost business and need our support. Therefore, funding across the board needs to be increased. Locally, the Council has an imperative to make sure that funding continues for the arts.
Local arts is also not just about people being entertained it's also a large source of business for pubs, live performance venues, shops, food traders, event organisers, and a whole host of other businesses that contribute to the economy of our community. Council must support local businesses in being able to foster events and conditions that allow arts to flourish.
I will stand up for the rights of artists and for culture to be supported by Council when elected, as a community without arts is one that cannot see itself represented nor have important stories told.