Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1408 ..
them were not able to prove eligibility for JobKeeper, even if they were professional practising artists. A lot of the Australia Council funding also simply did not work. I have been a practising artist for 15 years; I have a lot of friends in the sector, and we were pretty shocked at the kind of support that was being offered when that support was so needed.
Unfortunately, what we have seen in the federal budget just handed down is more of the same—there is almost nothing for the arts. There is a little bit for some organisations. It is targeted at big productions and international films, but most of our sole traders, our practising artists and most of our small arts businesses have been left out. I am particularly annoyed at the Support Act funding, which offers funding to a charity that supports musicians. I think that tells you everything you need to know about what the federal government thinks of the arts—they think that it is a hobby or is a charity; they do not think that it is real work.
The problem is that this is a bad outcome for our artists and for our culture and our communities, but it is also a really bad outcome for our economy. The arts sector in Australia employs almost 200,000 people—that is a lot more than coal mining, but you see where the money is going. It produces nine times as many jobs per million dollars in turnover as the construction industry, but that is not where the money is going. The arts sector grew from $110 billion to $115 billion between 2017 and 2018. It was increasing up until COVID, but as a result of COVID the jobs dropped away and they have not rebounded yet.
This is all about federal government funding, and I understand that that is not really what this Assembly does. But the problem is when we do not have leadership at the federal level, we have to step in and help out ourselves. Once again we are seeing states and territories lead the way, those that have vision. I have been really pleased to see some of the announcements that Minister Cheyne has made. I really like the $750,000 Amp It Up! fund. That is very well targeted for musicians and for live music venues and is fantastic to see. I was also really pleased to see HOMEFRONT, which came out so fast during COVID, that was more targeted and better suited to that sector.
I am interested to see some even bigger funding pots are coming out of other states. Victoria has just announced a multibillion dollar creative economy investment of $288 million. It is quite an interesting approach; I intend to have a little look at what they are doing and see what we can learn from it. They are taking a multiyear investment approach because they understand that one of the problems for arts funding is that we tend to go from grant to grant and project to project and there is no long-term career pathway. They have decided to tackle that head on.
Victoria are focusing on long-term opportunities for their creatives, and I suspect that it will cure quite a lot of problems at once. It will stop their talented artists from bleeding interstate. It will give artists some funding certainty and the dignity that their years of training and their work merit. And it will build their economy because arts funding contributes a lot more to the economy than funding channelled in other directions.