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Intro

Key findings

Respondents surveyed reported the following impacts from COVID-19 in the quarterly period from 1 April to 30 June 2020:

Workforce

  • The respondents to the survey identified a 59% decrease in employment overall compared to expected levels of employment for the period (1 April to 30 June).
  • This decrease includes jobs retained through JobKeeper support.
  • Casual and freelance/contract jobs showed significant decreases.
  • In contrast, full time and part time jobs showed relatively minor decreases. These employment types were supported by COVID-19 support packages.
    • Casual jobs with partnerships, companies and not-for-profit organisations fell by 75%
    • Freelance / contract jobs fell by 78%
    • Full-time jobs fell 8%
    • Part time jobs only decreased by 1%.
  • The greatest drops in expected versus actual employees was for work in partnerships, companies and not-for-profit organisations working in the following creative industry categories:
    • Comedians (down 96%)
    • Music venue operation (down 91%)
    • Producers (down 81%)
    • Circus performers (down 70%), and
    • Theatre company operation (down 61%).

Revenue

  • 34% of business entities reported NIL revenue for the period.
  • 83% of business entities posted lower than expected earnings for the period.
  • Before receiving COVID-19 financial support, actual revenue was 34% of expected revenue, on average.
  • After receiving COVID-19 financial support, actual revenue rose to 56% of expected revenue, on average.
  • After receiving COVID-19 financial support, Freelancers’ (without an ABN) and Partnerships’ actual revenue was 34% of expected revenue. This was the greatest shortfall in actual revenue against expected revenue for business types.
  • Not-for-profit organisations were able to recover the greatest percentage of lost revenue with COVID- 19 financial support in the period, at 83% of expected revenue after support, increasing from 56% before support.
  • The industry categories with the greatest shortfall in actual revenue against expected revenue before receiving COVID-19 support were:
    • Film/video post-production and Animation production (98% decrease)
    • Circus performer (98% decrease)
    • Dancer/choreographer (93% decrease), and
    • Musician/composer (92% decrease).
  • The industry categories with the greatest shortfall in actual revenue against expected revenue after receiving COVID-19 support were:
    • Film/video post-production and animation production (92% decrease)
    • Music venue/arena operation (86% decrease)
    • Library/archive operation (81% decrease), and
    • Dancer/choreographer (81% decrease).

COVID-19 Support Packages

  • 61% of business entities reported receiving no revenue through COVID-19 support packages.
  • Of those that did, they received $11,173, on average for the period, accounting for 39% of total revenue.
  • Access to support packages was highest among companies (58%) and not-for-profit organisations (52%).
  • Access to support packages was lowest among freelancers (19%) and sole traders (38%).
  • 79% of COVID-19 support received by business entities came from the Federal Government and 9% from the State Government of Western Australia.
  • Industry categories that were least likely to receive COVID-19 support packages were:
    • Library/Archive operation
    • Museum operation
    • Games development/design and publishing
    • Producers
    • Fashion, jewellery, textile design.

JobKeeper

  • Overall, 36% of business entities received JobKeeper assistance for employees.
  • Companies were most likely to receive JobKeeper support (55%) followed by not-for-profits (45%).
  • 60% of business entities did not apply for JobKeeper.

JobSeeker

  • Of those unemployed or seeking work in the creative industries during the period, 41% did not receive the JobSeeker allowance.

Alternative revenue sources to cover losses

Business entities

  • 85% of companies and 85% of partnerships drew on alternative revenue sources to help cover costs compared to 50% of not-for-profit organisations.
  • Business reserves were drawn on 66% of companies, 48% of partnerships and 40% of not-for-profit organisations drew on business reserves.
  • 44% of partnerships and 42% of companies drew on personal savings compared to just 4% of not-for- profit organisations.

Individual respondents

  • 74% of unemployed persons, 67% of sole traders and 65% of freelancers drew on personal savings to cover personal expenses due to lost income.
  • 31% of unemployed persons, 26% of students and 20% of freelancers borrowed funds from family and friends to help cover personal expenses.

Methodology

When designing the research methodology, the DLGSC needed to find a dynamic approach to reach the target audience. An innovative questionnaire was designed with capacity to capture the portfolio careers of multiple jobs that creative workers regularly have. A collaborative approach was undertaken to liaise with creative industry peak bodies to promote the survey to their networks. This section describes the population, sampling and data collection approach, and the respondent profile.

Population

The population was defined as all individuals, freelancers, businesses and organisations engaged in a selection of creative industries who create, perform, produce or present artistic or cultural works. It included individuals and business entities that were operating in the sector or seeking work as of 20 February 2020 or at any time during the quarter from 1 April to 30 June 2020.
 

The population covered a broad range of creative industries, including:

  • Film, TV and radio
  • Photography, writing and publishing
  • Fashion, jewellery and textile design
  • Performing arts venue operation
  • Visual arts, music, theatre and comedy
  • Dance, circus, opera and orchestra
  • Interactive VR/AR/XR artists
  • Games development and publishing
  • Libraries, art galleries and museums
  • Set, lighting and production design

Sampling approach

Ideally a Western Australian creative industries workforce population database would exist, and a random sample of contacts would be selected and invited to take part in a survey. As this database did not exist, a collaborative approach was developed to reach the population.

To reach and involve as many people in the population as possible, within resource capacity and timeframes, the DLGSC sent direct email invitations to contacts in its database and partnered with 22 peak bodies to promote the survey through partners’ networks.
 

As a Western Australian creative industry workforce count that includes second and third jobs does not exist, DLGSC had to cross reference data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and industry surveys to establish an understanding of the workforce population prior to the first COVID-19 case in the State.

Although high response rates were achieved for the industry categories surveyed, it is important to note that all findings from the survey reflect those that responded, and caution should be used in generalising to the entire creative industries workforce.

Western Australian creative industries: COVID-19 impacts -  partner organisations logos.

Data collection

Survey responses were collected online from 4 August to 8 September 2020.
 
The questionnaire was designed with the project team from the DLGSC to address the information objectives. When designing the questionnaire, the research team had to consider the complexity of employment arrangements within the creative industries sector. Individuals often earn income from multiple roles both within and outside of the creative industries sector. For example, an individual may work part-time in retail, part-time in an arts organisation, and also receive income as a freelance artist trading without an ABN. In addition to earning income from multiple sources, work is often fluid. An individual may hold a permanent part-time role and at the same time have multiple short-term contracts.
 
The questionnaire was designed so that a respondent with a creative industry portfolio career consisting of multiple jobs could answer with respect to each of the jobs or contracts they undertook during the period. This was an innovative approach to capturing the complexity and richness of creative industry employment that is missed in the Australian Census, which captures only main job data.
 
In an attempt to understand the complexity of employment in the creative industries sector, and to streamline the survey design to minimise respondent burden, respondents were initially asked two questions:
 
Q1. On 20 February, prior to the first case of COVID-19 in Western Australia, how were you involved in the creative industries sector?
 
Q2. For the quarterly period from 1 April to 30 June 2020, how were you involved in the creative industries sector?
 

For each question, respondents could choose a single response or multiple responses from the following options:

  • Freelancer – without an ABN
  • Sole trader – with an ABN (this includes contractors)
  • Partner in a partnership
  • Company owner or manager (i.e. CEO, General Manager, Executive Director, etc)
  • General manager in not-for-profit organisation (i.e. CEO, General Manager, Executive Director, etc)
  • Employee
  • Unemployed / seeking work in creative industries
  • Retired
  • Student
  • Volunteer
  • I was not involved in the creative industries sector
  • Other – please specify
To be included in the dataset, respondents had to have been involved in the creative industries sector as of 20 February 2020 prior to the first case of COVID-19 in Western Australia, or at some time during the quarter from 1 April 2020 to 30 June 2020.
 

Please download the report to view the full content.

Page reviewed 16 March 2022