Arts sector pleas for help

The Chamber of Arts and Culture Western Australia is calling on the state government to provide immediate financial relief for WA’s arts sector.

The chamber conducted a survey with 296 participants from diverse arts and cultural organisations and found the sector is in crisis.

Infographic of main survey results. Photo: Dhanya Vimalan.
Individuals in the arts sector need more support, according to the survey results. Infographic: Dhanya Vimalan.

In addition, more than 8000 contracts are at risk of termination due to COVID-19 related restrictions leading to last minute cancellations.

The Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Kim Jameson. Photo: Supplied.
The Chamber of Arts and Culture WA executive director Kim Jameson. Photo: Supplied.

The chamber’s executive director Kim Jameson says the results highlighted the steady decline in investments in arts and cultural organisations.

“Investments from regular bodies have not really increased in the past seven years. With the cost of living increasing, and the grants from bodies remaining stagnant, it reinforces the deficit that the arts and culture sector is in,” says Ms Jameson.

Ms Jameson believes the monetary investment is only one side to the story, and the government needs a more solid framework to stop this decline.

“We need a core cultural plan to ensure the needs of the sector are completely understood, and the investing state and local government bodies are able to clearly articulate their contribution to the sector.”

‘The Big Picture 2’, a report analysing the public expenditure on artistic, cultural, and creative activity in Australia from 2007 to 2020, found that investment in the arts and culture sector is not keeping up with the population growth over the decade.

According to the report, Australia is ranked 23 out of 34 countries for expenditure on culture and recreation, with the average global spending being 1.23 per cent of total the GDP, while Australia is at 0.95 per cent, indicating a cultural investment deficit.

With restrictions easing slowly, event organisers, promoters and independent artists are slowly starting to regain their rhythm.

Event organiser and founder of Afrobeats Fusion Yemi Olaosebikan says his recently organised concert featuring Omah Lay was a huge success in Perth.

“We’ve had several events cancelled over the past year, so when we found out this was going ahead, we knew it was going to be good, but the turn out blew our minds. Perth really showed their support,” he says.

“As promoters, this is one of the toughest times in our careers because of the uncertainty, in saying that we’ve turned that uncertainty into a norm, and we are ready for anything that’s thrown at us.”

Yemi Olaosebikan

Curtin University theatre students are grateful to have a platform to express their creativity despite restrictions, but are worried their future line of work is not being taken seriously.

Curtin University theatre students discussing the importance of arts and culture. Video: Dhanya Vimalan.

The theatre group will be performing its production ‘Empty Spaces’ on May 15 at 7pm.