Arts and cultural industries appeal for help during COVID-19 crisis

The effects of COVID-19 are being felt across the globe. With all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people being cancelled in Australia, those in the arts and cultural sector are heavily feeling the economic effects. 

The Government has issued an economic response totalling $17.6 billion which will support small to medium business to protect the economy, though many sole traders and freelancers or those who work on a contract basis are excluded from these incentives. The Federal Arts Minister, Paul Fletcher, will today host a roundtable discussion with industry representatives via teleconference to further understand specific economic impacts for the creative and cultural sectors.

“Given the significance of the cultural and creative sector – both economically and culturally – it is important we work together on a constructive approach to preparing for potential impacts and fully understanding the support available,” said Fletcher in a press release yesterday.

A new website was set up on Saturday 14 March by Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festival Association with major industry partners called ‘I Lost My Gig Australia’. The website is monitoring the impacts of event cancellations and postponements as a result of a summer of bushfires and now coronavirus on local creative industries. The website offers support to the artists impacted and attempts to keep the vulnerable arts sector in communication during this difficult period. Currently, the website has recorded a total of $47 million dollars lost and 20,000 events cancelled. 

Chief executive of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) Paul Murphy has called for a specialised Government response in a statement: “Because the sector has such high levels of casual and contract employment, MEAA supports the call of Live Performance Australia for specific support for the arts and entertainment industries, and for special consideration to be given to extending a temporary 50 percent wage subsidy for employers of apprentices to help keep people employed in sector.”

Furthermore, CEO of Live Performance Australia Evelyn Richardson said: “Many of our smaller- to medium-sized companies simply do not have the financial resources to survive an extended shutdown period.” 

Bolster, a digital and creative agency specialising in music, events and entertainment, see an opportunity for event organisers and brands connect with audiences digitally with content during these unprecedented times. 

“As a company deeply entrenched in the live music industry, Bolster is aware of the difficult decisions that lie ahead. But similar to the festival ‘off season’, content is a great way to keep events and festivals top of mind during a period of downtime. We are advising clients to use the opportunity to engage with their social communities with content in lieu of physical events, and also think outside the square to create meaningful moments or messaging that stands out in what will be a crowded feed,” says Darren Levin, head of content and publishing at Bolster.

The team has offered some measures you can take, how to keep live events front of mind moving forward:

  • Develop ticketed, live-stream events and club nights across streaming platforms that encourage punters to interact with the larger online attendees. Chinese musicians and audiences have been doing this with ‘bedroom music festivals’. We love it! 
  • Amplify your community by spreading awareness and advocacy for responsible health measures. Achieve long-term and genuine progress by allowing your punters to have a conversation on your channels and be a part of it with them.
  • Travel bans will have an impact on international artists coming into the country and headlining events. This is a great opportunity to put Australian music in the spotlight and diversify the line-up.
  • As audiences embrace staying local, investigate what you can do to scale proximity with local community attendance. Reach out to local businesses and create partnerships to drive connectivity, or, consider what journey you can take people on if they choose to road-trip to your event.
  • Audiences will now be thinking of more ways that they can share good times with each other that reduces the likelihood of any negative effect on their health. Ensure that your creative signifies safety, wellbeing and a mature, caring community at your event.
  • Keep your event front of mind by repurposing, resharing, or creating content that engages your social audience in a positive way. People will be experiencing news fatigue, so a reminder of a good time in their lives could provide a nice respite.

Photo by Radek Grzybowski on Unsplash.

Jasmine Giuliani
BY Jasmine Giuliani ON 17 March 2020
Jasmine Giuliani is the Editor of MarketingMag