This update includes changes to the Wage Subsidy Scheme criteria for music sector people.

The situation has changed rapidly this week, with unprecedented steps taken by Government that will affect every member of our music community and all New Zealanders.

The movement of alert stages, and the national lock down, will have an impact on the music sector unlike anything we have ever seen.  Musicians, songwriters and all the people who work around them – the crew and production people, venue and record store owners and their staff, publicists, managers, promoters and label owners, distributors, people who work in radio, music video production, and so many more – everyone will be affected by COVID-19.

By the end of last weekend, at least twenty full-time music venues had closed either temporarily or indefinitely.  Event and tour cancellations saw another twenty venues unable to open their doors. Now, of course, everything is closed for the safety of the nation.

As part of trying to gauge the extent of this impact, the collection of information over at I Lost My Gig Aotearoa continues.  By Monday this week, the figure had grown to a collective loss of over $7.7million from 467 individual submissions – and we are aware that there are still large parts of the sector whose information is yet to be included.  If you haven’t registered your lost work (gig or job), please do.

There are two important issues to cover in this update.  

Firstly, as we noted last week, financial relief for people impacted by COVID-19 was made available by the Government through the Wage Subsidy Scheme.  There were a few parts of the initial criteria that made it difficult for some musicians, alongside self-employed and contractor music people, to apply.  The Ministry of Social Development have agreed to immediate changes to the Wage Subsidy Scheme criteria to provide urgent relief for more music people. Those changes are:

  1. Creative sector workers who can demonstrate either a 30%+ decline due to COVID-19 in their average monthly revenue across the last 12 months, or can provide proof of cancellations of work due to COVID-19 amounting to a 30%+ decline in revenue, will be eligible to access the Wage Subsidy.
  2. Self-employed creative sector workers whose primary source of income is from their creative endeavours, and who otherwise qualify for the Wage Subsidy, will be eligible as ‘working 20 hours or more per week’.
  3. Self-employed applicants should type in ‘Sole Trader’ in the ‘NBN number’ field of the application form.
  4. MSD have confirmed that the criteria for licences, permits, qualifications and such will not be required (i.e. The criteria currently states that Sole Traders must have government licences and permits for their business needs, and qualifications or registrations for their trade or profession).

We are really pleased that the Ministry of Social Development responded so quickly, and we thank them for resolving these issues.  We are also hearing that increasing numbers of music sole traders and small businesses are now receiving the wage subsidy with no issues, which is positive news. The scheme appears to be operating on a very high level of trust – so all applicants must ensure that they are able to prove their financial criteria for receiving the subsidy in due course.  You can find more information about the support available here.

Secondly, a big announcement this week was that Creative New Zealand have established an Emergency Response Package, which includes a first phase $16million investment to buffer and support the arts community, both now and beyond the immediate crisis.  Further details on the application process will be available on their website soon, but they have already revealed there will be Short-term Relief for CNZ Investment Clients, alongside Resilience Grants – comprising both an Arts Continuity Grant and an Emergency Relief Grant (of up to $10k per individual), for eligible artists and arts practitioners, collectives and groups who may be experiencing devastating loss of income and opportunity.  Ngā mihi nui to everyone at Creative New Zealand who has worked so hard, and so fast, to get this package together for the arts in Aotearoa.

We would also encourage everyone that is facing an uncertain future to please have a look at the Government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Package, to see what hardship support might be available for you.  This is a rolling Government response, and we hope to see more announcements in the near future.

Our national music organisations – APRA AMCOS, Independent Music NZ, Music Managers Forum NZ, MusicHelps, NZ Music Commission, NZ On Air Music and Recorded Music NZ – are continuing to work together to share information and to plan for the coming weeks, and the ongoing challenges through the coming months.  Over the lockdown period, we will be providing these updates weekly or as we have new details to share.

Lastly, we just wanted to remind you that MusicHelps is there if you are feeling anxious, stressed, or are simply struggling with the mental load of these current events – 0508 MUSICHELPS.

Stay home, stay safe – and we hope you get to listen to some great music from artists right across Aotearoa over the coming weeks.

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