Marina Prior accompanied by John Foreman.

Echoing calls by other industry bodies, the Australian Drama Agents’ Association (ADAA), Association of Drama Agents in NSW (ADA), Casting Guild of Australia (CGA) and allied businesses today pressed the Federal Government to urgently support both the live performance and screen sectors with a targeted rescue package.

In a statement issued today, ADAA, ADA and CGA welcomed the JobKeeper package for small businesses and sole traders, but expressed concern that it does not appear to cover freelancers who work short-term contracts, and argued that the impacts on the industry will last for a significantly longer period than the next six months. A targeted rescue package will help the industry rebound after the restrictions put in place to contain the spread of COVID-19 are lifted, they argued.

The bodies’ concern around JobKeeper is also held by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), who earlier this week asked for clarity around the eligibility of freelancers employed under short-term contracts who are paid a wage rather than operating under as a sole trader with an ABN.

“Bans on mass gatherings could be one of the last measures lifted so the arts community will be without income for a longer period than many other sectors,” said ADAA president Catherine Poulton.

“Our industry is very interconnected, with the work of businesses, organisations and individuals closely interwoven. It’s not just the actors on stage or screen, but, behind the scenes, the crews, the producers, the casting directors, the talent managers, the publicists, the post-production houses, the distributors, the exhibitors and the venues that are impacted.”

CGA acting president David Newman said: “If the arts are the window into the soul of a nation, it’s vital we find ways to support the very infrastructure that helps build the foundations of the Australian Arts community.

“Through the support for all aspects both in front of, and behind the scenes we will be in the best position possible for the arts community to play our role, emotionally and economically, in the recovery from this crisis.”

Jointly speaking for the ADA, Sharron Meissner and Monica Keightley said: “Our industry is a unique one. We work behind the scenes mostly, are often invisible and thus forgotten participants in the arts industry, even in a crisis. Our industry was built on the foundations of longstanding relationships developed and established over many years of hard work and challenges. To lose the key players now would be catastrophic to the Arts. Right now, people globally are self isolating, viewing television via various streaming services (Netflix, Amazon etc.), the very productions to which our Arts industry contributes.”