Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 4 August 2021) . . Page.. 2315 ..
Many of our artists were not eligible for federal funding like JobKeeper due to the nature of their gig work. Most artists have a second job to get by. Many of our performers work the bar or front of house at a show. In addition to losing live gig work, many artists lost their second income in hospitality at the same time in. I am pleased to see that the ACT has shown much greater understanding and compassion for our arts sector than the federal government, but life is still hard for many of our practitioners. For instance, not all of our live events have been included in ACT recovery measures. Flazeda in Belconnen is one example. Minister Cheyne and I have both been in touch with Rachel, who runs Flazeda.
I am really pleased with the sensible COVID measures taken in Canberra. They are keeping us safe. I am also pleased that some exemptions were made to help out live music. I was pleased to see Amp It Up! as well. But the current COVID exemptions for live music exclude other live performances. Flazeda are not classified as a live music venue. They host dancing, which is in fact a lower risk activity for COVID than singing, but this means that they are not eligible for those live music exemptions. They are continuing to operate, but they have to do so with very low audience numbers—currently only 33 people. They have tried to access exemptions but they have not been successful. Flazeda are home to burlesque, circus, belly dance, pinup, drag, comedy, cabaret and much more. I have seen some of my friends perform there, and it is a great night. They host award winning artists and community classes and they have a real focus on body positivity. As well as a great local business, they are providing exactly what we need to help boost our spirits through this latest crisis.
In a similar vein, I note our long-running policy to establish entertainment precincts. Eleven years ago, the planning committee made recommendations about entertainment precincts to support the live music scene. There have been many reports since, including the government’s Entertainment Action Plan 2019. When I asked about this in the last sittings, I was pleased to hear from the Minister for Planning and Land Management that implementation is underway. I understand the need to look at long-term planning over quick fixes and I understand the delays caused by COVID, but we need to get on with this project if we are going to have live music in future.
We need to implement all the actions in the entertainment precinct plan. We need to trial the temporary special entertainment area in the city centre. We need to make sure that festivals like the National Multicultural Festival will not risk closure if those in newly built hotels and apartments lodge noise complaints. In any of the steps we are taking to help out hospitality sector, I urge our government to make sure we help our small business venues, follow through on our previous commitments and remember the artists who perform in these small businesses. No-one understands the notion of a “work in progress” better than an artist, but let us adjust our measures where we can in response to community feedback and feedback from our arts sector. Let us keep working on our COVID responses and our assistance measures and make sure we are getting them right.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Climate Action, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism) (3.40): I thank colleagues for their contribution to the debate today and particularly Minister Cheyne for the amendment that she has moved.