Queensland’s Arts Minister has called on the Federal Government to improve eligibility arrangements for the JobKeeper program to address the exclusion of many arts sector workers from the program.
Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said she had written to the Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Security and the Arts Paul Fletcher, raising concerns on behalf of artists and arts workers who have been severely impacted by restrictions brought about by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“The sustainability of Queensland’s arts and cultural sector and the continued employment of artists and arts workers is so important, and I want to ensure that organisations and arts workers are not excluded from the Federal Government’s JobKeeper program,” Ms Enoch said.
“The wholesale exclusion of so many arts and cultural workers from the design of the JobKeeper program is a devastating omission by the Commonwealth.
“I am concerned about the wellbeing of so many workers, who are often engaged on short term contracts.
“Gigs have been cancelled or postponed, and so much income lost as a consequence of necessary restrictions on public gatherings, and these workers should not be excluded from JobKeeper,” Ms Enoch said.
Based on current JobKeeper rules, the Queensland Performing Arts Trust which operates the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC), the Queensland Theatre Company, Major Brisbane Festivals (which produces the Brisbane Festival) and many other significant arts and cultural facilities including in regional Queensland are all deemed ineligible.
“I have written to Paul Fletcher MP, Commonwealth Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, urging him to support our artists, arts workers and organisations by raising these eligibility anomalies with the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
“I have also written to the Deputy Premier and Treasurer Jackie Trad, who shares these concerns and has raised Jobkeeper program eligibility issues with the Federal Treasurer directly,” Ms Enoch said.
To date, the Palaszczuk Government has announced over $10.5 million in funding relief measures for the arts sector through funding boosts, funding extensions, changes to application dates and criteria, and rent relief.
This targeted support is in addition to more than $4 billion worth of initiatives announced by the Palaszczuk Government to help support Queenslanders and businesses through COVID-19.