Scott Morrison’s recent announcement of a $250 million rescue package, for the arts and entertainment sector, may have come a little too late for one of New South Wales largest regional theatre companies.
Latest reports are suggesting that the Liberal Government’s bailout package may not be able to save Wollongong’s Merrigong Theatre Company even with $1 million in allocated funding from the local city council. Since the COVID-19 induced shutdown approximately 372 performances have been cancelled with an expected revenue loss of $4 million dollars.
As reported by the ABC the Director of Merrigong Theatre Company, Simon Hinton, expressed his concern about the company’s future:
“We are still looking at the very real possibility before the end of the year at being insolvent,” Mr Hinton said.
“In this figure there is $50 million for screen production, important, but a different sector to live performance, so including that is a little bit disingenuous,” Mr Hinton said.
“There is also $90 million which is not funding, it is a Commonwealth guarantee against a loan, but clearly no Australian arts organisation is going to be able to borrow their way out of the current situation.”
“So really it is $110 million for the live performance industry,” he said.
Wollongong Deputy Mayor Tania Brown has also expressed how devastating the loss of this cultural icon would be for a regional city of nearly 300,000 people.
“We have a strong and thriving arts sector in our community we want to maintain, and the government’s announcement does nothing to help us,” Cr Brown said.
“We just don’t know what product we are going to put on a stage, when we can open, and how many bums on seats we can get,” Cr Brown said.