Showing all posts tagged: arts

Only one in five Australian musicians earn a full time income

4 April 2024

The latest Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) survey of the pay and work conditions of Australian musicians makes for grim reading. In particular, the stand-out finding that half of local musos earned less than six thousand dollars last year.

Six thousand dollars.

The adult minimum annual wage in Australia, based on earnings of $882 per week, and assuming payment covers fifty-two weeks of the year, is a shade under forty-six thousand Australian dollars. Only twenty percent of musicians said they made a full time income from their work.

Many musicians needed to work several jobs, often perform at shows unpaid, and seldom receive superannuation payments. In 2022, the NSW Labor party promised to pass laws ensuring musicians performing at publicly funded events, receive a minimum payment of two-hundred-and-fifty dollars.

At least it’s a start, but I think the findings of the MEAA survey make it glaringly obvious: more support is needed for the performing arts in Australia.


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NSW Labor party to pay musicians $250 for live shows at publicly funded events

21 December 2022

Should they form government at the state election in March 2023, the NSW state Labor party will mandate a minimum payment of A$250 for musicians performing at any event or show in NSW that has received public, or government, funding.

The $250 flat fee will be a condition of a contract by a business or other entity that accepts a government grant for a show or event. While there is currently no guarantee that artists will receive a minimum fee for performing at events funded by public money in New South Wales, a Chris Minns-led government aims to change things.

This is a step in the right direction. A$250 may not be much, once musicians have deducted their various overheads, but it’s something. And worth far more than the trite line that artists doubtless hear often: “but performing (gratis) at our event will give you some great exposure.”

Heck, it’s even a line that’s been spun on me sometimes here at disassociated. Do I need/want exposure? Sure. But I also need income, to, you know, make a living.


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Half of Australian mid career artists considering career change

7 December 2022

A recent survey of the Australian arts sector (PDF) reveals that slightly over half of mid-career artists are either considering leaving the arts, or are already retraining, so they can take up work in another sector all together.

Low rates of remuneration appear to be prompting a number of veteran independent artists and creatives to look elsewhere for opportunities:

In the words of one anonymous respondent: “I am retraining into the medical administration sector and will not be working in the arts anymore. That is a career of nearly 40 years gone due to the inability to survive financially.”



What is in the 2022 Australian budget for the arts sector?

29 October 2022

The arts sector had been keenly anticipating the 2022 federal budget, with hopes Australia’s recently elected Labor government might offer some respite to the arts after a difficult few years.

The government has all sorts of matters to deal with, the return of inflation, rising interest rates, and increasing power costs, to name a few, but in what arts and culture advocate Esther Anatolitis describes as a budget that is safe-ish, while daring to be boring, there is something for the sector.

Again, it’s only election commitments that are enumerated in last night’s Budget; Minister for the Arts Tony Burke has consistently focused our expectations on the comprehensive National Cultural Policy development and not immediate gestures.


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2022 Australia Council Awards recipients announcement

9 August 2022

The Australia Council Awards recognise artists, writers, musicians, and other creatives whose work contributes to Australia’s diverse cultural life. Among recipients of the 2022 awards announced yesterday, was Robert Dessaix, a Tasmanian based writer of literary non-fiction, who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement in Literature award.

Literary non-fiction? I had to look that up. A few of the books I read are classified as literary fiction, but this is the first time I’ve encountered the non-fiction genus.

Literary nonfiction is an elusive creature in literature known by many names. You might hear literary nonfiction called narrative nonfiction or creative nonfiction. Regardless of the name, literary nonfiction tells a story, typically in a creative way. Therefore, creative nonfiction writers use literary devices and writing conventions seen in poetry and fiction, but these accounts are based on actual facts or observations.


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Artists may struggle with changes to income support payments

22 June 2022

There are fears upcoming changes to the eligibility criteria for receiving unemployment benefits, or income support payments, will impact negatively on those seeking work in the arts sector. To continue to qualify for support payments, jobseekers will need to earn one hundred points each week, as opposed to applying for a certain number of jobs.

Points can be gained from a number of activities, including taking courses, doing volunteer work, or attending a job interview. However, many of the sanctioned activities fall outside the usual income generating endeavours of arts professionals, says the National Association for the Visual Arts (NAVA).

Professional arts practitioners are likely to actively seek opportunities in a number of different forms and from a wide variety of sources. This includes undertaking residencies, applying for grants and funding, meeting with curators, sitting on boards, attending industry events, and making artwork for sale, exhibition, and to enter into prizes. Thousands of independent artists and arts workers currently rely on JobSeeker benefits. Without changes to what is recognised by Centrelink as ‘seeking employment’, many will find it near impossible to lodge the work they’ve been seeking as artists to comply with the requirements under the new points system.

The new arts minster, Tony Burke, who is also employment and workplace relations minister, has expressed a desire to do more to help artists and arts workers, so it can only be hoped he is able to adjust some of these requirements.



Degree course pricing unfair to humanities and arts students

31 May 2022

The Australasian Council of Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (DASSH) is calling for reform to higher education fee structures, which appear to be skewed against students wishing to study humanities, arts, and social sciences degrees. DASSH says recently released statistics show the cost of arts degree is up to three thousand dollar more per annum (PDF), compared to medicine or dentistry courses.

81 per cent of the nearly 14,000 Year 12 students interviewed for the report said passion would guide their choices for further study. The Universities Admission Centre Student Lifestyle Report shows only 35 per cent of students consider the cost of education when choosing their degree, and only about 40 per cent consider employment outcomes. These statistics fly in the face of the face of claims fee increases would guide student preferences under the former Government’s ‘Job Ready Graduates Package’.

Given many students are making study choices based on their passion, or what they’re really interested in, rather than the cost, or potential employment outcome, of tertiary education courses, DASSH wants to see more equitable degree course pricing.


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Mental health, well-being, prime concerns for music workers

30 May 2022

A recent survey of people working professionally in the Australian music and live performing arts industries makes for grim reading. Conducted in March by Support Act, a charity assisting artists and workers in the Australian music industry, the findings reveals many are fearful for their livelihoods and mental health:

  • 66% of participants had high/very high levels of psychological distress, more than four times the general population
  • 59% experienced suicidal thoughts, which is over four and a half times the proportion of the general Australian population
  • 29% reported having a current anxiety condition and 27% reported currently having depression, both more than twice that of the general population
  • Over one third of participants reported incomes from their work in music/live performing arts as less than $30,000 per annum, which is below the poverty line
  • Just 15% said they felt safe at work all of the time, with 35% saying they were exposed to unsafe working conditions in the last year
  • Over 47% lost their jobs due to the pandemic

The full summary of survey findings (PDF) can be read here.


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New Australian arts minister promises more focus on sector

30 May 2022

The recent change of Federal government in Australia has raised hopes the arts sector will receive more economic support, with incoming arts and industrial relations minister Tony Burke keen to address insecure work and unreliable pay issues.

Burke has also long advocated for addressing issues of insecure work and unreliable pay, claiming Labor would launch a senate inquiry into insecure work if elected. The arts and cultural sector has the dubious title of being an industry leader in insecure work. And it is at the intersection of cultural and industrial relations policy where our new arts minister could dramatically reshape the sector.

I think Burke has a task and a half before him, but a closer focus on the arts is long overdue.


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Arts and culture polices in the 2022 Australian election

20 May 2022

Australians go to the polls tomorrow, Saturday 21 May 2022, to choose who will govern the country for the next three years. While issues such as climate change, the pandemic, and regional security have dominated the election campaign, matters arts and culture have been largely absent from the spot light.

In terms of policy in this area, the incumbent Liberal National Coalition government appears to offer little, while the present opposition party, Labor, has policy that Ben Eltham, a lecturer at the School of Media, Film, and Journalism at Monash University, describes as “surprisingly modest.” Eltham, together with four other policy experts, have compared the proposals of both major political parties, and graded each of them.

Meanwhile, Ben Francis has set out the difference between the Greens, Labor, and the Liberal National Coalition, arts and culture policies in slide format.


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