As a federal election looms both parties have made multi-million dollar commitments to supporting live music around the country – with a new, South Australia-based program for emerging Indigenous musicians now on the table.
Spread across four years, the Federal Government’s Australian Music Industry Package includes $22.5 million to provide small businesses with grants capped at $10,000 to fund artist programming and improving infrastructure for live performances.
$2.1 million will support a Women in Music Mentor program work to achieve more equal gender representation in the Australian music scene – an issue which some in the community are already acting upon – with an investment in professional training and development for women in music. The announcement also include a $2 million commitment to the Australia Council to help fund its ongoing Contemporary Music Touring program, and $1.6 million to expand the efforts of music export body Sounds Australia to focus on Asian markets.
The weekend’s announcement by Arts Minister Mitch Fifield comes in the wake of a New South Wales state election that saw issues of music festival policing and lockouts put live music culture firmly on the political agenda. With organisations and artists across the sector still recovering from the fallout of Brandis-era raids to the Australia Council and subsequent funding cuts, it’s no surprise to see the Morrison Government work to front foot the issue ahead of the upcoming federal election.
In November 2018 the ALP also announced a live music plan to the tune of $28 million as part of its own election platform, spread over three years’ to the Coalition’s four.
— Ollie Henderson (@Ollie_Hen) October 9, 2016
The recent New South Wales election revealed there are votes in live music
One key point of difference is the Coalition’s $2.7 million commitment to establishing a national development program to help Indigenous musicians and groups tour and record. With the program and funding to be administered by Music SA, the initiative evidently hopes to see more Indigenous artists achieve similar success to Zaachariaha Fielding, whose Adelaide-based group Electric Fields narrowly missed an opportunity to represent Australia at Eurovision.
“It’s exciting to see this level of significant funding to enable some action to be taken in the areas of touring circuits, artist development, business management and access to recording and live music infrastructure,” Music SA CEO Lisa Bishop says of the news. “The long term nature of this funding will allow time for initiatives to develop and consolidate.
“Across Australia, from large cities to the most remote communities, Indigenous people are making music. Making music can grow the confidence and skills of people and can potentially be an important source of income to enable sustainable careers for Indigenous musicians.”
The news follows a January announcement that Music SA would be launching a 12-month scholarship and internship program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander musicians.
Jamie Goldsmith and Zaachariaha Fielding perform at the Ruby Awards, photo: Andre Castellucci