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Key Issues 

The impact of COVID-19 on the Western Australian arts and culture sector has been devastating and the road to recovery will be long.

The COVID crisis has also brought to the fore, longer term trends and issues that have been impacting the sector. 

Changes in economy, technology and society have been challenging arts organisations to think closely about how they make work, connect with audiences and run businesses.  More people want access to arts and cultural experiences and there are more opportunities to deliver this. But at the same time, government investment in the sector is declining - why?

Like other sectors of the economy, government investment should support transformation, innovation and capacity building in order to realise the potential within Western Australia’s creative sector.



  • In 2020 more than 32,000 cultural and arts events were cancelled due to COVID-19, film and television productions stalled, and art, literature and music sales continue to face significant losses.

  • On average casual employment decreased by 75%, contract employment decreased by 78%, and revenue reduced by 72%.

  • The estimated financial impact is currently $48 million with further losses expected in 2021.

  • Ongoing venue and travel restrictions continue to limit revenue and employment.

  • The end of Federal COVID support packages will raise business continuity issues for some organisations.

  • Some organisations are in danger of not being able to meet Fair Work conditions for employees as our research shows contract workers and artists working beyond their remunerated hours.

  • With 60% of Australia’s Indigenous visual art generated in WA, the lack of access to markets and economic downturn will have major flow on effects within Indigenous communities.

  • Volunteer burnout and lack of self-care mechanisms for small community arts organisations will result in some closures and reduction of community participation levels.

  • Potential collapse of businesses within the events industry will impact access to specialised equipment and contractors on which the whole sector relies.

  • Interrelationships with the hospitality and tourism sector will also see diminished opportunities for events and performances.

  • Audience surveys show that only 57% of audiences have returned to cultural events.

  • Social distancing regulations mean that venue capacity will make many performances financially unviable.

  • Creative sector employment in Western Australia is well below the national average growth and prior to travel restrictions being imposed there was the all too common issue of the ‘brain drain’ to the Eastern States as Western Australian artists and creative workers moved in pursuit of opportunities not available in this State.

  • The unique challenges posed by the size of the State and touring work to our regions remains unaddressed by government policy and investment. 

  • Arts and culture also face the prospect of diminished program funding from Lotterywest.  The policy framework that sees these sectors affected by the volatility of gambling revenue needs to be seriously considered into the future. It constrains any consistent long-term strategy and most particularly affects investment in Western Australian content and future oriented initiatives.

  • Regional artists and communities continue to be disadvantaged by intrastate travel costs, Perth-centric funding models, unreliable digital access, and limited or not-fit-for-purpose cultural infrastructure.