The live industry is welcoming a tweak to the conditions applied to RISE grants, which should ensure artists and crew members are paid promptly.
Following concerns over the fair distribution of money and bottlenecks in the delivery of payments, federal government recently introduced a rule that requires 33 per cent of each of the Batch 5 RISE grants be paid to suppliers within 30 days of receipt, as a deposit for future services.
The new rules could be a lifeline for thousands of sole-traders and live industry professionals who, during better times, make the shows happen.
It’s a good start, but not the solution, notes Stephen Wade, chair of the ALMBC.
“We support it and we lobbied for that payment through to the suppliers. I’m happy to see that supported by the industry and the government,” he tells TIO.
RISE was designed to help reopen industry post-lockdown. The Delta variant threw in a curveball, and live is still in mothballs.
As an industry right now, Wade continues, “we need support for our businesses. How do we move forward and keep staff employed, keep warehouses stacked with gear, and keep tour managers and everyone in the ecosystem viable, particularly sole-traders, so when we do open up, we’re ready to go. There are a lot of layers to stay mindful of.”
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The support helps, notes Wade, but “we’re nowhere out of the woods.”
Peking Duk landed a RISE grant for an upcoming regional tour, which would see their live show reimagined for the purpose of fitting into venues of varying sizes throughout the country. To fulfil the brief, notes the Canberra electronic duo’s manager Ben Dennis, the act engaged its long-term production partners and creatives to come up with bespoke ideas and solutions for the dates.
“The main issue for us now is working out when the tour can happen due to current border and venue restrictions but in the meantime we have begun to pay stakeholders for the preparation work that can be done now for a tour that will happen in the future,” he explains to TIO.
“All projects and undertakings are very different from each other but I feel the request to pay down 33% of each grant as a deposit to key stakeholders/suppliers is super reasonable. Hopefully this means the funding will trickle down to those who need it most and at the time they need it most.”
In a report by The Australian, it was revealed that the new provisions were put in place in response to fears that promotors may be withholding the funds from third parties.
TEG chief executive Geoff Jones told The Australian that it is “worth remembering that the money each grant winner is awarded only represents a portion of the total project budget.”
“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,” Jones said.
When The Australian asked Arts Minister Paul Fletcher why the 33 per cent deposit rule was not applied to the fourth round, he said it was because those grants agreements have “already been entered into”.
“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,” he said.
Fletcher also confirmed that RISE grants cannot be spent on things like international artists’ fees, quarantine costs or royalties for non-Australian artists.
TIO understands RISE grants are not required to be paid back by recipients for postponed or cancelled shows.
The final $40M in RISE funding is set to be announced later this year.