A support package worth millions is welcome news to the struggling arts industry, but leaders of South Coast arts organisations share concerns about its apparent focus on new initiatives, rather than established ones.
This week, the federal government announced $250million for creative professionals to help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic, as the arts is a sector that has been particularly devastated as a result of coronavirus restrictions.
"These measures will support a broad range of jobs, from performers, artists and roadies, to front-of-house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy such as tourism and hospitality," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday, the AAP reported.
Four Winds executive director David Francis said it was good to see the federal government acknowledge the significance of the arts' economic and cultural contribution to the country, but said "as always with these announcements the devil will be in the detail".
He said there appeared to be an emphasis on "new" in the guidelines, which could be a concern for existing arts organisations that were focused on reigniting their existing programs, particularly where they have an established audience.
"There is a danger that new activity will be created across the sector just to attract funding, as opposed to it responding to a real creative drive or audience demand; in the long term that doesn't lead to a sustainable sector," Mr Francis said.
"Having seen recent government initiatives following the bushfires and during COVID miss many independent workers and artists in the sector - many of whom are represented in our region - I hope that will not be the case with this new funding."
South East Arts NSW executive director Andrew Gray also welcomed the support package, but told ACM he was keen to see the details about how it would be distributed and who it would be available to, and also shared Mr Francis' concerns about the emphasis on "new" in the guidelines.
"There's a lot of existing festivals, events and organisations that could really benefit from this support," he said.
"Also, until we see how the support is to be put out, it does tend to seem it has a metro focus to it."
Mr Gray said part of the funding would focus on supporting major artistic companies, but the majority of such companies were located in Australia's main cities.
He also said it was often the case that individuals were not eligible for large funding rounds, just organisations.