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Victorian industry underwhelmed by latest grants announcement

This week the Victorian Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, Martin Pakula, announced new grants for event organisers saying, “Event organisers have done it tough and they deserve this across-the-board support – from big companies with dozens of workers to individual contractors it will provide critical cash injections when they are needed most. Victorians love turning out to events and we are backing the sector and its workers to recover stronger than ever.”

To which the Minister for Creative Industries, Danny Pearson, added, “From performers and technical crew to promoters and venues, it takes many hands to stage a live performance event and many have lost business and work because of this pandemic. This package provides vital support to our arts and entertainment industry, but in particular our cinema businesses – these grants will be critical to a sector we know has been hit hard throughout the pandemic.”

Read the full announcement

However, as usual the devil was in the detail. These grants are only available to businesses with a payroll of more than $3 million in metropolitan Melbourne or $500,000 in regional Victoria. So that excludes the majority of businesses in the events sector. ASE reached out to a few Victorian operators for comment

Peter Jones – Peter Jones Special Events

As they say anything is better than nothing, so from that perspective this announcement is certainly welcome. What we all need to keep in mind is that this is only a short term fix for business that was lost during the two week lockdown. It is not going to apply to everyone and is more targeted at the larger events and suppliers that were directly impacted.

It’s certainly not a long term solution to address the major issues and that is where our discussions with the government will continue.

Still a long way to go!

Simon Thewlis – Save Victorian Events

$10m of the funding has been diverted to the Arts – on top of the $508m they had already received.

The $7m to ‘major events’ is limited to suppliers with an annual payroll of greater than $3m – which means that most of the event industry suppliers at greatest risk are not eligible.

The $3m to Tier 1 and 2 ‘public events’ is helpful as some of this will go to event industry businesses.

Business events – despite being about 80% of the event industry in Victoria – almost completely misses out.

Sadly there still seems to be very little understanding of what the event industry is within Victoria’s government.

Stav Hatzipantelis – Pro Light & Sound

It is great news for a sector of the Events Industry that was “missing out” … but let’s not forget, many in this sector were getting Jobkeeper and grants throughout the lockdown last year.  Whilst it is good that Martin Pakula is finally acknowledging the need for specific support for the Events Sector, they still have not covered the larger number of those affected which are the “Suppliers” to the Events Industry.  It’s great to see that Entertainers are getting acknowledgement, but what of the much larger number of support staff, personnel and professionals that make these events happen?

Many of the Promoters are out of pocket because the last minute cancellations stopped the events going ahead after they had made payments to suppliers.  So Promoters can get grants for loss of income because of the lost ticket sales but what of the suppliers?  There is still no compensation to the businesses or individuals that had supplied products and service in setting up Marquees, Toilets, Infrastructure, AV, Theming and Staging but then had their clients, including promoters, refuse to pay because the events did not go ahead.

As an industry, we know that the larger proportion of the businesses and professionals affected have received little financial support.  There are a vast number of individuals that have not qualified for grants for a number of reasons.  Many are owner-operators, were not registered for GST, were not trading using an ABN or were professionals working on a casual or contract basis.  In the past, we applauded the small operators and self-employed, often referring to them as “success stories” – but now they have all been left in the dark.

As the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Martin Pakula must consider how an industry works if the State Government truly wants to ensure our industry remains.  The typical Employer / Employee model simply does not exist in our industry.  The supply chain is also radically different from most industries too.  

Yes, there are companies at the moment with $$millions of assets sitting in warehouses collecting dust – but what of the personnel that would normally be prepping, delivering, setting up and operating this equipment and running the shows?  These are what I refer to the unseen “black shirt army” that worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make events happen.  Most of these people have made the events industry their career and have now been left to fend for themselves.

So I am happy to see this announcement, but still despair as I know that the $Millions in funding will not “trickle down” to those that have yet to see any form of support.

Taken from Australasian Special Events article.

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