Arts and entertainment insiders have repeatedly warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could destroy a generation of live music performance talent. The Melbourne musician Alex Lahey is the latest high-profile voice to call on the government to provide more funding for the live entertainment sector before it’s too late.
“I am calling for a federal government led insurance scheme and wage subsidies program for the arts and entertainment industry,” said Lahey, in an open letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
Now, one of the world’s leading providers of insurance and risk solutions for the entertainment industry has offered broad support for the musician’s lobbying effort.
“Anything to assist the arts community during this time would be welcome,” said Marsh’s Simon Calabrese (pictured), national manager for entertainment and leisure. Calabrese is a musician himself and, as an insurance broker, has worked with some of Australia’s largest entertainment promoters, suppliers and venues
“With the arts community being so heavily impacted right now, anything that assists at this time would be welcome, especially increased funding for the arts sector,” he said.
In her letter, Lahey described how she’s “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.”
She warned that current government arts funding schemes designed to counter the pandemic aren’t reaching the artists, performers and crew members.
“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 said.
Calabrese said the entire arts and entertainment sector was suffering.
“In the states most affected by lockdowns it is really tough for all,” he explained. “Event promoters and venues are unable to plan for events with government sanctioned lockdowns due to COVID-19 currently being an uninsurable risk. This flows through to the broader industry.”
Which means everyone in the entertainment industry is impacted, from musicians, to promoters and insurers.
“With COVID-19 being a known risk, the exclusion for events (imposed March 2020) has made it unfeasible for promoters to plan larger events/tours, and as a consequence to this, we see a negative knock-on effect to artists, support crew, venues and suppliers that support the industry,” said Calabrese.
Calabrese said digital channels like YouTube and Spotify were not sufficient to financially support the vast majority of artists.
“The industry is turning to government funding (where available) via Support Act, friends and family helping out, teaching and trying to source alternative forms of income in other sectors,” he said.
But, like Lahey, the Marsh broker considers these options currently inadequate.
A possible model for the Melbourne musician’s proposal already exists. Early in August, Australian music and industry bodies urged the Morrison government to follow the lead of the United Kingdom and other European countries. In the UK, the Live Events Reinsurance Scheme partners the government and Lloyd’s of London. The government now guarantees the policies issued by insurers for live music related and business events.