Guy Sebastian Says He Was Used as a “Prop” by Government for Arts Funding Package

Singer Guy Sebastian has claimed he was used as a “prop” for by the Federal Government after helping promote their $250 million arts funding package last year, the rollout of which has been criticised by many in the industry.

“I was used as a prop by the Government to stand there and deliver an arts package but who is it helping?” Sebastian told News Corp in a Herald Sun exclusive out today. “I stood there because I genuinely thought something would happen. I’d rung all my muso friends, asked for their suggestions, and I relayed them on that Zoom call to the Prime Minister.”

Sebastian received backlash from the music industry for his presence at Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s press conference announcing the program in June of last year. Sebastian initially defended his appearance at the press conference, saying his purpose was to be “a voice for the people directly affected” and to provide perspective regarding the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on the music industry.

In October of last year, Sebastian said he had pushed the PM for answers, after Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young pointed out that less than a fifth of the package had been allocated. In the Herald Sun piece, Sebastian says that despite enquiring for updates surrounding the package, it appears “no one seems to have followed through on their words or had any plans for insurance for people putting on musicals or concerts. It’s not working, obviously.”

“I’m not speaking from an uneducated platform. I’ve directly watched the musicians in my band be in a position now where there’s no Government help, no JobKeeper, no finance. What are they going to do?” Sebastian said. He added that he disagrees with the way that program has been rolled out, and that the government has failed to due the necessary diligence to ensure it’s actively helping those in the sector that need it.

Earlier this week, Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke revealed that the Federal Government had only rolled out half of the funding it initially promised for the arts and entertainment sector. “Thirteen months ago Scott Morrison and Paul Fletcher enlisted celebrities for a photo opportunity to announce the RISE grants to help get arts and entertainment organisations through the pandemic,” Burke said.

“Now – more than a year on – Minister Fletcher has confirmed only $100 million of the promised $200 million has actually been spent.”

Read the full story over at the Herald Sun here.

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