Arts grants to be won by biz, passed onto workers

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Arts Grants To Be Won By Biz, Passed Onto Workers

After concerns that RISE funding was not going to artists and others intended to receive it, the Australian government will step in to ensure the funds are flowing to those who need it.

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from the Australian 15.09.21

The federal government will force music event promoters to hand over at least a third of their pandemic-related emergency grants to artists and other suppliers amid increasing concerns that the money is not flowing to those who need it.

Known as the RISE grants, the stimulus scheme hands money to arts organisations and promoters who are responsible for distributing it to contractors and others who may be affected when performances are cancelled, or if outbreaks force events to be rescheduled.

In response to deep concern from the live music sector over blockages in the payment pipeline surrounding these grants, the commonwealth will redirect funding towards third parties.

Under new provisions revealed to The Australian on Wednesday, Arts Minister Paul Fletcher said, “We do want money to be flowing to all of the multiple parties involved, and not just sitting in the promoters’ bank accounts.”

Under the changes, 33 per cent of each RISE grant must be paid to suppliers within 30 days as a deposit for services yet to be rendered. This means much-needed cash will flow to artists, managers, booking agents, road crew and specialist technicians across the sector.

Arts grants to be won by biz, passed onto workers.theaustralian.andrewmcmillen2nto workers
Concert promoter TEG Live received $900,000 to stage arena tours for KISS, above, and Keith Urban

Blockages in the RISE payment pipeline have caused significant financial stress across an industry reeling from restrictions on social gatherings.

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As one senior music industry source told The Australian earlier this week: “You’ve got a sector that’s drowning, you’ve got all of these life rafts that were given to promoters – and none of them are coming off the boat.”

The provisions outlined by Mr Fletcher on Wednesday will be retrofitted to the most recent round of funding announced on September 6, with 63 arts organisations received $20m.

The music industry recipients in that round of funding included Wollongong festival Yours and Owls, which received $700,000, while promoter TEG Van Egmond received $697,899 to tour the children’s music act Teeny Tiny Stevies, and indie rock band Holy Holy received $65,194 for its national tour.

Five batches of RISE funding totalling $160m have been delivered to arts organisations since December last year.

In the fourth tranche, announced on July 30, recipients included the organisers behind major events such as Byron Bay Bluesfest, which received $2.4m in the highest amount of RISE funding ever delivered.

Concert promoter TEG Live received $900,000 to stage arena tours for KISS and Keith Urban in the summer, while TEG Dainty received $750,000 for its Guns N’ Roses tour.

Since the July 30 announcement, Bluesfest has rescheduled its planned October event to April 2022, while the KISS tour has also been moved from November to March 2022 due to ongoing restrictions on mass gatherings and interstate travel.

Arts grants to be won by biz, passed onto workers.theaustralian.andrewmcmillen3
Keith Urban. Picture: Getty Images

Keith Urban’s arena tour is still slated to start on December 1 in Newcastle, and the Guns N’ Roses tour is set to begin on the Gold Coast on November 6.

Asked why the 33 per cent deposit provision was not applied to the July 30 round of funding, Mr Fletcher said: “Those grant agreements have already been entered into, so we can’t change the rules retrospectively. It really reflects continuing consultation with the music sector, and the fact that the goalposts have been moving as we’ve understood the impact of Delta.”

If an existing RISE funding agreement is varied, such as to move an event planned for 2021 into next year, the new guidelines will propose the 33 per cent payment clauses be included.

However, responsibility for accepting or declining new terms will lie with the grant recipient.

In response to queries earlier this week about the RISE funding received for its KISS, Keith Urban and Guns N’ Roses tours, TEG chief executive Geoff Jones said: “The RISE program has been a great stimulus for the industry. The only problem has been with closed borders and lockdowns which have shut down touring, but Minister Fletcher’s office has been really good to work with to try to find a way around it and I am sure they will.

“It is worth remembering that the money each grant winner is awarded only represents a portion of the total project budget.”

Money allocated for touring those overseas acts won’t return to the US when the likes of KISS and Guns N’ Roses head home after completing their Australian concerts, however.

“Funding under RISE cannot go to international artists’ fees, or to quarantine costs, or to royalties for non-Australian artists,” Mr Fletcher said.

“We want that money to be going to the sound and lighting people, the guys who put the stage together, and all of the different parties who are employed in Australia to work on those tours.”

To date, $52m of the $160m allocated under the RISE fund has been committed to support contemporary music projects. Of that amount, more than $45m has already been provided to grant recipients.

The final $40m in RISE funding is due to be announced before the end of the year.

Arts grants to be won by biz, passed onto workers.theaustralian.andrewmcmillen4
Byron Bay Bluesfest received $2.4m — the highest amount of RISE funding ever delivered

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