Australian artists left disappointed by Government response to struggling creative arts industry

James Bustar, entertainer turned activist, is leading the Save The Arts campaign. Photo: Ollie Griffiths.

 

THE Australian Government has responded to an open letter calling for a vital reform in the way that the Arts and Creative Industries is represented in the Federal Parliament of Australia.

However, Australian artists James Bustar, Mark McConville and Lindsay Webb, have been left disappointed and dismayed by the government’s response to the plight of the arts and creative industry as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The initial open letter was sent to Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts Paul Fletcher on 11 August 2021, before being sent to Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Premier of Victoria Dan Andrews.

As well as calling for reform, the letter made clear the devastating financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Arts and Creative sectors in Australia and the need for ‘industry specific’ Federally funded financial assistance to support those in the industries who need it.

Australian entertainer, juggler, now turned activist, James Bustar, said the response from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications wasn’t good enough.

“We received a response and it was very generic, and unacceptable really.

“The arts and creative industry are struggling every day to make ends meet, pay rent and put food on the table.

“We may be able to start performing gigs again, but we are fresh out of lockdown and entertainers are still struggling.

“The government doesn’t acknowledge this or care,” James said.

After a gruelling eighteen months, James Bustar is still fighting for the shattered industry starting up ‘Save The Arts’.

Through this campaign, Bustar has sought to directly raise awareness of the governmental neglect and lack of industry-specific support that was decimating the artistic community of Australia, beginning with small clips and challenges.

The first challenge was called ‘An Apple A Day’, which challenged followers to throw an apple from screen to screen, from person to person, country to country.

The challenge was a huge success, with 110+ entertainers from seven different countries globally participating.

Another successful campaign was the Arts Awareness Collaboration video named ‘If 2020 was a flight’ where Bustar invited artists to strip bare to illustrate they had been ‘stripped bare’ from their work.

Bustar said that nothing could have prepared him for the heavy price the Australian arts community would pay with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has affected every aspect of the arts and entertainment sector, everyone from shoemakers for production shows, to lighting designers, to circus performers.

“Entertainment must live on and we must stand to get our industry back on the road.

“There are so many entertainers (and other industries) who have had to step into other jobs to just financially get through this situation.

“This industry needs a voice,” James said.

Bustar is pleased with the recent news from Create NSW who have announced Round 1 of its 2021/22 Arts and Cultural Funding Program, which will share $9.37 million amongst 198 recipients.

“This is a step in the right direction and I hope that this funding will help struggling artists in NSW,” he said.

 

By Tara CAMPBELL

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