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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 901 ..

MS CLAY (Ginninderra) (5.49): I would like to spend a little bit of time talking about the arts, tourism and the night-time economy. We have a lot of small businesses in this sector. I have run several, particularly in the arts. I think it is really important that we pay a bit of attention to this sector at the moment. Art makes life better. It gives us a sense of voice, place, collective identity and culture. It helps us makes sense of the chaos.

What did we do during and after the fires? We all turned to art. What did we do when we were trying to get by with the isolation and the job losses of COVID? We listened to music, we watched television and we made and consumed art. It is incredibly important. It helps us celebrate the good things and it helps us process the bad ones. It gives meaning to our experiences and it helps us get through.

COVID has had a devastating impact on our artists in general and on our musicians in particular. Many of our artists were not eligible for federal funding like JobKeeper due to the nature of their gig work. They run small businesses, they tend to work freelance, from job to job, and they just do not fit into those schemes. Many of them lost a lot of their secondary income as well because they work in hospitality or one of the other fields that are also deeply affected by COVID.

Arts and recreation wages have taken a massive dive during COVID. ABS data shows that in the last 12 months arts and recreation wages are still down and they are decreasing. Job vacancies are also down from November 2019 to February 2021. Most of our other industries have rebounded really well during this time, but we do not yet have a full recovery for the arts; we are nowhere near.

I was really pleased to see how fast the ACT government swooped in to provide Homefront grants and other assistance. It was great to see that rolling out in such a simple manner. But we are in this for the long haul and we are going to need more help. We need to get strategic long-term funding if we are to build arts careers and build that creative economy that we all know we want.

We also need to make sure that we are telling the full range of stories. We need more First Nations stories, multicultural stories, LGBTQIA+ and women’s stories in particular. Part of the Greens’ gender-led recovery package was a women’s walk of artwork by, for and about women at the new West Basin precinct. That will be a fantastic new public art project.

I was pleased to see our recent estimates recommendations about increasing transparency and improving feedback on our arts funding. I think that is a great direction to move in. I love the goals we have set to promote Canberra as a vibrant city with world-class tourism, art and cultural experiences. I look forward to seeing more of that in our future budgets.

I also want to take note of some of the progress we are making at the moment in placing a general gender lens on all government decisions. We have heard a little about this already today. We really need to view our budget through a gendered lens right now because COVID has had a disproportionate impact on women, because of

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