House debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Statements by Members

COVID-19: Arts

1:39 pm

Photo of Alicia PayneAlicia Payne (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Art is a central part of how we express and define ourselves as a society. It is how we tell our stories, it's an important vehicle for political commentary and it's where we turn for inspiration, for comfort and for entertainment, not least as we've dealt with this pandemic. But this government obviously doesn't recognise that, as they have left our arts sector out to dry at this critical time. Our arts community were a huge support to everyone throughout the bushfires and were among the first and hardest hit by the COVID-19 restrictions. But, despite Labor's calls, this government has done nothing to support them.

In my electorate of Canberra, the arts community thrives in spaces like the Ainslie Arts Centre, Canberra Contemporary Art Space, Canberra Glassworks, Gorman House Arts Centre, Manuka Arts Centre, Street Theatre, Watson Arts Centre and Megalo Print Studio and Gallery. And there is the Canberra Museum and Gallery, which is once again open, and the Canberra Theatre Centre, which is keeping the community entertained with free online shows through the CTC@Home program.

This week, I met with the Capital Arts Patrons' Organisation, who have distributed over $2.5 million in arts fellowships and awards with the support of the Canberra community. In contrast to this government, the ACT Labor government has of course stepped up to support our artists through this with grants of up to $10,000 each to 66 local artists and a $1 million investment in Canberra arts organisations. It's time that this government stepped up and supported our arts sector.

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