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READ ALEX LAHEY'S OPEN LETTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER

The musician questions the PM on the governments plan for the entertainment sector as lockdown continues across the country.

Image: Supplied.


Melbourne musician Alex Lahey has today shared her letter to the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, urging the leader and his party to support the entertainment sector, and our creatives nationwide. The singer calls for a Government led insurance scheme and wage subsidies program, that will aid the arts and entertainment industry. Read the full letter below!



RE: Roadmap for providing support to the entertainment sector

Dear Prime Minister,


My name is Alex Lahey and I’m a Melbourne based musician.


Since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have known and acknowledged that the arts and entertainment industry would be the first to go down and the last to come back. Despite this awareness, very little has been done by our Federal Government to prop up this multimillion-dollar, world class commercial sector, which finds itself decimated after a year and a half of closure with no end in sight.

As the demise of the arts and entertainment industry continues, coupled with a proven inadequate vaccination rollout, I want to ask the Federal Government, what is the roadmap for providing support to the entertainment sector?

Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes. The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and events, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation.


I have watched and listened to my friends, colleagues and peers cry in the face of the adversity and uncertainty they’ve faced for over a year. I have seen some of the most talented individuals turn their backs on what were once promising careers as performers, venue workers and crew. But despite the turmoil we face as a collective and as individuals within our industry, Federal Government promises continue to be broken and schemes have been left behind.


The Federal grants program structure has failed to prop up our industry - the trickle-down intentions of this scheme have not come to fruition, leaving performers, crews and venues empty handed.


To reference a letter written to The Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts by my friend and colleague Sophie Kirov of Lost Motel:


“In the four rounds of [RISE] funding, Contemporary Live Music specifically has received $44 million in funding across 69 tours, events and festivals. To date only 10 of these have been seen to execution, with the event occurring and suppliers and crew paid; representing a mere $6 million. Of the remaining $38 million that has been allocated to Live Music, those funds sit untouched in the bank accounts of the Promoters of cancelled, postponed, or entirely unannounced beneficiaries while our Industry crumbles.

Only 3% of the total $200 million RISE Fund pool has been disseminated downstream to Live Music businesses.

The Live Music Industry operates under a payment-upon-completion model. Until the artist has performed, no associated party is paid. No management or agent commissions, no crew fees, no production supplier fees, no other businesses, except that of the Promoter.”

Additionally, the conclusion of the Job Keeper and Job Seeker scheme has neglected an entire industry that continues to be unable to keep or seek jobs for the foreseeable future.


I am calling for a Federal Government led insurance scheme and wage subsidies program for the arts and entertainment industry.


Without funds getting directly to the artists, performers and crew members throughout this crisis, the industry is eating into itself, running the risk of leaving our country void of a generation’s worth of live performance talent and crew.


As a sector made up of a rich tapestry of small businesses (all of whom pay copious amounts of tax every single financial year, might I add), we need our confidence restored. We need to know that our businesses and livelihoods are directly supported by our Federal Government to take commercial risks in order to stay afloat, even in the face of increasingly unpredictable Delta variant shutdowns.


There need to be structures in place that ensure prompt and direct reparative financial support for business and individuals in the event that gigs, tours or festivals cannot move forward due to outbreaks. Further to this, a wage subsidy system will allow for workers and performers to make ends meet during inevitable capacity restrictions as we emerge from lockdowns. This system will keep venues alive; it will keep performers on stage, it will keep crews in jobs - and most importantly, it will keep our rich, vibrant and unique performance culture flowing through the veins of our country.


The creative community has been stood down and overlooked. But it’s time for us to stand up and call out for what we need. I hope our government will listen and come to our aid.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Lahey