OPINION

Support Act offering assistance to arts industry

The arts industry was hit hard by COVID. Picture: Craig George
The arts industry was hit hard by COVID. Picture: Craig George

COVID and the ensuing lockdowns have affected Australians in vastly different ways depending on their location, occupation and a myriad of other factors - just ask anyone who has been home-schooling their children for the past 18 months.

Mental health and wellbeing support is a vital lifeline for many, including an all too often overlooked workforce - the arts.

With entertainment venues forced to shut their doors, musicians and performing arts workers have struggled more than most. Like the hospitality industry, the arts were decimated by COVID.

Friends and family of those in the industry know the sacrifices artists make in pursuit of their passions. The industry is notoriously difficult to achieve stability even without a global pandemic.

Most workers shift from project to project as freelancers or short-term casuals, meaning more than half of Australia's creative workers were ineligible for JobKeeper due to not being employed in the same position continuously for 12 months or more.

With widespread cancellations of festivals, concerts and performances, it was also very difficult to apply for four jobs per month as required for eligibility. Against this backdrop, mental health and wellbeing support has become increasingly important for musicians and artists.

Unfortunately, freelance workers also often lack the support, structure and financial stability of a regular employer, which can create additional stress and limit access to support services such as employee assistance programs.

Now live performances are returning, artists and musicians must grapple with the industry's proclivity for 'crunch' periods of work. When setting up for concerts or shows, people will often work late into the night for a week or more, not unlike frontline healthcare workers. This working pattern accentuates the stress and burnout risks already present in the industry.

But this return to work could mark a new era and fresh opportunity for the creative arts industry - opening the door to create a more mindful and supportive working culture. As Australians yearned to return to live performances, never before have we valued the contribution of this varied and dynamic profession so much. Acknowledging the unique stresses and challenges faced by people in this industry, we're proud to partner with Support Act - a wellbeing helpline for music and performing arts workers, including crew and managers. To access support, call 1800 959 500.

  • Marcela Slepica, AccessEAP Clinical Services Director.
This story Giving a vulnerable workforce a fresh start first appeared on The Canberra Times.