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Alex Lahey Pens Open Letter to PM in Plea for Arts and Entertainment Support

“The creative community has been stood down and overlooked,” notes Alex Lahey. “But it’s time for us to stand up and call out for what we need.”

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Alex Lahey has taken to social media to share an open letter to the Prime Minister, called for a “more effective and direct roadmap for support to workers in the entertainment sector” who have found themselves without work in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sharing the letter earlier today, Lahey begins her plea by acknowledging the sad fact that “the arts and entertainment industry would be the first to go down and the last to come back”. However, while sporting events find themselves returning, and with a miserably-poor vaccine rollout currently underway across the country, Lahey notes that very little has been done by the Federal Government to “prop up this multimillion-dollar, world class commercial sector”.

“Tens of thousands of gigs are cancelled with every month that passes,” Lahey notes. “The necessary snap lockdown strategies, in particular, bring a complete lack of ability to plan and budget for gigs and events, causing collective mental health and confidence to continue to slip with every postponement and cancellation.

“I have watched and listened to my friends, colleagues and peers cry in the face of the adversity and uncertainty they’ve faced for over a year. I have seen some of the most talented individuals turn their backs on what were once promising careers as performers, venue workers and crew. But despite the turmoil we face as a collective and as individuals within our industry, Federal Government promises continue to be broken and schemes have been left behind.”

The letter also points out how the conclusion of the Job Keeper and Job Seeker scheme has left an entire industry high and dry, before Lahey explains she is explicitly “calling for a Federal Government led insurance scheme and wage subsidies program for the arts and entertainment industry”.

“Without funds getting directly to the artists, performers and crew members throughout this crisis, the industry is eating into itself, running the risk of leaving our country void of a generation’s worth of live performance talent and crew,” she explains.

“As a sector made up of a rich tapestry of small businesses (all of whom pay copious amounts of tax every single financial year, might I add), we need our confidence restored. We need to know that our businesses and livelihoods are directly supported by our Federal Government to take commercial risks in order to stay afloat, even in the face of increasingly unpredictable Delta variant shutdowns.”

As the letter reaches its end, Lahey explains that structures need to exist in order to provide swift financial support for those who have events, gigs, tours, or festivals cancelled or postponed due to outbreaks, while requesting a wage system that allows workers and performers to receive payments to make ends meet during this period of uncertainty.

“This system will keep venues alive; it will keep performers on stage, it will keep crews in jobs – and most importantly, it will keep our rich, vibrant and unique performance culture flowing through the veins of our country,” Lahey concludes.

“The creative community has been stood down and overlooked. But it’s time for us to stand up and call out for what we need. I hope our government will listen and come to our aid.”

No official responses have been made public by anyone in the current Federal Government at the time of publication.