COVID-19 Response Update | A Message from WAM
COVID-19 Response Update
A message from WAM CEO, Mike Harris
29 May 2020
I thought it timely to check in with all our members and followers and keep you up to date on what WAM has been up to these past few weeks.
It has been a busy time for all of us here – and in saying that I do recognise that for many of you this has been a time of significant stress and anxiety, so we do not make light of the fact we are fortunate to remain in work – doing what we can to help our local music industry.
We were excited to see today’s State Government announcement regarding the easing of COVID-19 restrictions from Monday June 6. The increase of gathering limits to 100 and revised square metre rule opens the door for the resumption of live music events and venue trading. Whilst the eased restrictions will provide some relief, our industry is still in need of targeted support and action.
The requirement for seating at live music venues does not reflect or represent the places where most music is played, making compliance with this restriction logistically and financially challenging for many. We call on the state government to rescind this requirement for live music venues as soon as practicable.
The following captures some the what WAM has been doing to support the industry through the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on our society and particularly on music:
- The WAM Resources Hub www.wam.org.au/covid-19 remains a key resource for many and has a plethora of information and opportunities. Well in excess of 5000 people have made critical connections through this. Most hits are for WAM’s support activities such as Sound Check (see below) and information on financial support opportunities.
- WAM has made its membership free of change until April 2021. I urge everyone to take this opportunity to join WAM be an active part of the WA music industry. Almost 500 new members have signed up so far. 20% of these have been regional and we are getting some great feedback from regional members on the value of WAM’s support during this time.
- WAM’s Sound Check webinar series has delivered seven facilitated webinars so far with more being scheduled each week. These are proving very popular and we will continue to run them whilst they are proving to be of value to the local industry.
- We have started, informally for now, to provide one-on-one sessions with WAM staff to offer personalised advice and support across many areas of interest and/or concern. This will be formalised and rolled out more fulsomely soon – keep an eye out for information on how to participate.
- State of the Art Festival (SOTA) is going ahead this Monday WA Day with our live-streamed event SOTAstream. (See www.facebook.com/sotafestival). We are also working with the Minderoo Foundation to deliver a series of micro pop up gigs in places such as women’s and homeless shelters, health institutions etc to provide some moments of relief and joy in people’s lives, who may be struggling with the impact of COVID-19. The response to these has been significantly positive. Importantly, between these two programs we are pushing over $170,000 into artists, production suppliers and other music related people or businesses.
- Fielding numerous call and emails, offering support, advice and referrals when and where we can to help our people. Being there has proven critical for May.
- A lot of time has been invested in talking to government and lobbying on behalf of the local music industry for support during the COVID-19 shutdowns, and stimulus packages during and beyond the time of reopening.
The music industry is FILO: First In, Last Out and it is critical that this is recognised – which I believe it is beginning to be – and treated accordingly. This is the ongoing battle. To this end I encourage everyone to contact their local member and stress the importance of music, and the impact of COVID-19 on you, our local community, and our WA music sector.
A list of members can be found here: https://www.parliament.wa.gov.au/parliament/memblist.nsf/WAMembers
We are hearing the experiences and stories from people working hard to maintain their mental and physical health and wellbeing during this time. If you are struggling, I urge you to seek support; whether through a creative outlet, interaction with your friends and colleagues, or seeking professional support. Support Act, Beyond Blue and Lifeline are there for you, and resources available from initiatives like Act-Belong-Commit and Head to Health. Please do all you can to look after yourself; you are important and we need you in our lives now, and beyond a point of resumption of live music activity.
Stay safe. Stay creative. Stay engaged.