EXCLUSIVE: Templeman guarantees WA art sector assistance amid COVID-19

The McGowan Government has advised creatives working in WA’s arts industry to “hold strong” as it assures them they are being assisted in their recovery from COVID-19.

Artists have been encouraged to keep working while demonstrating the importance of the sector during the coronavirus pandemic, as the government promised arts workers were being supported.

The arts industry is currently a $111 billion industry, however funding to the industry equals around $6.4 billion.

WA Arts Minister David Templeman said the State Government understood that actors, musicians and visual artists were struggling following COVID-19.

“We know that artists and those in the performing arts industry and other cultural industries were affected first when COVID-19 struck,” Mr Templeman told ARIA award winning singer and songwriter Kavisha Mazzella on Western Perspective.

“We know that overnight, many of them had their incomes severed.”

He said that the government was currently working to provide support for all artists through Lotterywest funding.

“I assure you that the government has already made commitments, totalling over $20 million in a range of ways,” Mr Templeman said.

“One is, we’ve repurposed some of our existing ground programs so that we are tailoring those to delivering to immediate needs of artists because we recognise that for many, it’s about income,” he said.

“Secondly, we’ve looked at how we can, whether it’s through venues support, rent relief, we’ve looked at our Aboriginal art galleries and how we can support our indigenous artists.”

He said an important focus was repurposing $500,000 from the contemporary music fund as COVID-19 restrictions are loosened and contemporary music artists return to performing.

Mr Templeman also said small to medium arts companies and artists were also a part of the government’s focus, stating that they “as important as our majors quite frankly.”

The minister’s comments came after theatre-maker Jay Emmanuel expressed concerns for artists following COVID-19.

In the second part of Western Perspective’s “Art of Change”, Mr Emmanuel said artists in the sector needed assistance.

Mr Templeman agreed with Mr Emmanuel, stating it was an opportunity to show the importance of arts sector.

“Here’s a pivotal moment I think for the art sector to not only demonstrate its enduring value,” he said.

“When we have terrible circumstances and tragedies quite often, almost immediately, it’s our artisans and artists and on the ground who respond and respond so well and so positively, because they’re community builders.”

He called for more leadership from the Federal Government.

“I want the federal government, obviously, to see the role that it needs to play going forward in terms of that, In terms of funding and giving us a national direction, with regard to the place that arts culture plays in our Australian psyche,” Mr Templeman said.

“I think there needs to be some leadership there.”

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