7 April 2020
Following the recent announcement by the Australia Council of its four-year funding grants, Ausdance National is pleased to note that eight dance companies have been successful, providing them with some surety for the next four years. Five other dance companies have received transitional funding for a year, but now hang by a thread, their losses merely delayed as they face an unsustainable extension of life. Many other applicants did not make it into final considerations.
That the Australia Council was forced to spread available funding so thinly demonstrates the extremely serious diminution of vital dance infrastructure in this country, evidence that more arts funding is required if dance is to remain a viable industry within the wider cultural sector.
Ausdance National notes the actions taken by the Australian Government and the Australia Council in responding to the impact of COVID-19, and appreciates the challenging circumstances in which they are operating. However, unless funding deficiencies are addressed, implications for the dance sector will be severe, threatening the vibrancy of Australia’s cultural life and posing significant threats to the wellbeing of the many Australians who benefit from the health, connectedness and community economies that dance activities generate.
It is self-evident that 2021 will require more than a thinly spread funding strategy in order for the arts and cultural sectors to re-emerge as viable creative industries.
In recognition of the extreme difficulty under which the Australia Council is working, Ausdance calls on the Australian Government to significantly increase the Council’s budget as part of a larger set of arts industry stimulus measures. In the context of the hundreds of billions of dollars being rolled out to sustain the economy and ensure a transition out of the pandemic, this increase would be a small but vital investment in the arts and cultural sectors.
The absence of an arts-specific support package from the Government – called for by all peak arts organisations and supported by Ausdance – reflects a lack of acknowledgment of the importance of the arts and cultural sectors to Australian lives. The sector’s demonstrated contribution to our economy of $111.7 billion (or 6.4% of GDP) is a contribution that will dissipate with an unsustainable loss of art infrastructure, thereby affecting tourism, community health, arts education, tertiary arts training, a reduction in cultural activities and the world-class performances that make Australian destinations great places to visit.
It is also concerning that Government ministers do not acknowledge gaps in the JobSeeker and JobKeeper packages, particularly as they relate to many casual artists and arts workers who do not fit the criteria. The reality is that many professional artists are left without the cash flow needed to immediately transition services online and build new income sources. Our COVID-19 impact survey is identifying mental health as a major issue in this environment.
The loss of dance infrastructure over many years is reflected now in the four-year funding outcomes, despite the increase in outputs by the sector. Given artists’ critical contribution to world-class performances, to the creative economy, to community health, well-being and cultural education – all of which help to scaffold Australia’s cultural life – recovery from the COVID-19 crisis will be severely impaired for many of our citizens.
Contact National President Paul Summers on 0417 925 292 for further comment.
4 April 2020
At a time when the dance industry is facing some of its biggest challenges in history, Ausdance is collating vital information from dance professionals, businesses, educators and organisations to feed into a national COVID-19 impact study by Australia Council for the Arts.
The Ausdance COVID-19 dance survey is about everyone working in dance, and it’s inclusive of every genre and sector within the industry – choreographers, companies, teachers, studios, academics, community dance artists, company managers and administrators.
We need your data right now to:
- Show evidence of the true economic value of the dance sector to ensure that stimulus packages are sufficient to mitigate the impact of COVID-19;
- Shine a light on the often invisible work of artists and arts workers;
- Provide in-depth and lasting data to assist advocacy bodies, artists, statisticians, policymakers and politicians to make the case for arts support now and into the future.
This Australia Council study will show the economic, social and cultural impact of COVID-19 on the arts sector as a whole. It will also shine the light on the true economic value of the arts in Australia in a way we have never seen before.
Ausdance is part of the Australia Council research working group that comprises Ausdance, PAC Australia, NAVA, I Lost my Gig Australia, Diversity Arts Australia, National Writers Centre Network and MEAA.
The aim of this working group is to provide an accurate representation of the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and cultural sector as a whole, as seen in this Australia Council summary of the work currently being collected and collated.
It is critical to note that we have never seen data collection like this before in the arts, and it is critical that we get as much data as we can right now to allow us to make a case for the arts for years to come. Please contribute by doing the survey urgently and add your voice – dance needs to be heard more than ever before.
For more information please contact project leader Jordin Steele, Ausdance Q'ld Chair.
29 March 2020
The following letter was sent to The Hon Scott Morrison MP, Prime Minister, and The Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Regional Development, on Thursday 26 March 2020. Read here>>>
25 March 2020
In what has quickly become a major crisis, we are very aware of the enormity of the impact of COVID-19 on the dance sector as artists, teachers, choreographers and company directors.
We assure you that we are working with our colleagues across the arts sector to bring you the best information, but most importantly, to be a voice for dance at all political levels.
Your Ausdance network is working closely with local dance artists and organisations to advocate on your behalf, to facilitate online network meetings where possible, and to provide information about State/Territory government regulations as they change from day to day. However, many of us are now only working in a voluntary capacity, so we hope you will understand when immediate responses aren’t always possible, as many of us are depending on social media to communicate.
As you know, Ausdance National members voted last year to continue supporting the national body. We have a strong and active board whose members are in constant contact with one another, providing great advice as they engage with the dance community across Australia. We are also in constant conversation with our major arts sector colleagues, and Ausdance network leaders.
Dance studios: While acknowledging the extreme hardship this will cause, Ausdance notes the directive from the Federal government and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee in relation to the temporary closure of non-essential businesses which has included gyms and indoor sports facilities. Ausdance recommends therefore, on the basis of common sense, that all dance teaching and rehearsal studios close temporarily until further notice, effective immediately.
Here are some of the advocacy actions Ausdance National is currently undertaking with the Ausdance network:
- We issued a statement in support of the dance sector last Friday, and invite you to share it with your colleagues. It especially notes the plight of independent artists and sole traders.
- We are urgently surveying the whole dance sector to enable us to take the direct impact of COVID-19 on your practice to our political decision makers. This survey was initiated by Ausdance Qld with support from Ausdance National, and we urge you to complete it as soon as possible so that we can continue with the important analysis. COVID-19: Dance Sector Survey.
- We have been invited by the Opposition Arts spokesperson, Tony Burke MP, to join a peak body roundtable teleconference at which we will present the earliest survey results. We are also included the the weekly teleconference between the federal Arts Department, the Australia Council and peak arts bodies, and the regular NAVA conferences, representing dance.
- Earliest analysis of the survey indicates major issues with mental health, so we will advocate for greater resources to support our sector, as well as for loosening of criteria for access to new financial packages.
- We have had a very positive response to our statement from Senator Sarah Hanson-Young who is pushing for a targeted package for arts and creative industries. Our statement has also been shared with Arts Minister Paul Fletcher and his advisor Kristine Kaukomaa.
- We are keeping our social media communication up to date, and invite you to ‘like’ our FB page and share widely.
- We’ve had a teleconference with insurance company Aon about what we need to communicate to our members. See our insurance information, and please consider Aon as your primary insurer, as we are ensuring the best dance cover possible, both for companies and individuals. There is also a 10% discount for Ausdance members - you can call the Ausdance-dedicated team from across Australia on 1800 806 584.
- Ausdance Qld has developed a template (which can be modified to suit specific State requirements) to stand down employees. This means that the 'employer relationship' is retained and gives the employee long term intention, but complies with the law in relation to a temporary stand-down. The document has been created for us (including, importantly the disclaimer) by Lindsay Carroll, Legal Practice Director of the National Retailers' Association. A link will be available shortly.
- Online teaching resource: Dr. Katrina Rank, education & training officer with Ausdance Victoria, is developing an online teaching resource which will be shared across the network.
Here are some of the most useful documents and advice available to date:
- Wellbeing Helpline
- Arts Law Centre of Australia: COVID-19 FAQs for artists
- Department of Treasury: Economic assistance for businesses
- Centrelink information - COVID-19 financial package
- Arts Minister’s media release: Cultural and Creative Sector and COVID-19
- Australia Council - COVID-19 response
- Those who enrich our lives need our help now: Melbourne Age editorial, 20 March 2020.
- NAVA: Industry Advisory Note: COVID-19 Response
20 March 2020
As we are all very aware, the arts and live performance have been devastated by the impact of COVID-19, along with the rest of the community.
Any businesses that practice in the arts sector, be they for-profit or not-for-profit, big, small or individual, must be included in the upcoming economic stimulus package. In the dance sector, there are studios, performance companies and individuals who have had their work lost or diminished to the point of closing down. Any government stimulus for business must include arts workers, and take account of issues such as rent and mortgage assistance, freezing of utility bills, and rapid responses by Centrelink, including the abandonment of waiting times.
With so many independent practitioners in dance, we implore all governments to find ways to support individuals and sole traders through this crisis. Artists have always been extremely resourceful in sustaining their practice through normal times. Their opportunities for other work though, have now diminished to the point of non-existence and, despite their many creative resources, the financial and artistic consequences for them are dire.
Eventually, the pandemic will pass. We don’t know when. When it does, the creative industries, and especially the arts, will be the leaders in reviving the spirits of the community and working with all Australians to restore society and the economy. Everything possible must be done to ensure that artists are actually around to do so.
If you want to contribute to Ausdance's knowledge of the impact of COVID-19 on your practice, please complete this survey.
For further information contact:
Paul Summers, Ausdance National President
Mobile 0417 925 292