She may be an Aussie musical icon, but Tina Arena admits she’s still doing it tough as coronavirus plays havoc with the economy.
In a typically frank new interview with Stellar available in today’s Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Herald Sun, Arena, 52, admits she hasn’t had a major gig since playing Evita in 2018, and is worried about her immediate future as someone employed in the arts.
“I haven’t worked for a year and a half,” Arena tells Stellar. “This is a very serious thing for me. I’ve got a mortgage to pay. I had to tell the bank I need to freeze my loan, I can’t pay right now. I’m not going to panic about it – I’m not alone. There are millions of us who can’t afford to make those repayments right now. So the government needs to put things in place in order to protect us. We can’t all lose our homes at the same time, that’s not possible.
“The arts industry is being categorically ignored. The number of people who have lost their jobs in our industry is extraordinary. I’m checking on my friends constantly; some aren’t doing well.”
Arena’s been making the most of her time in self-isolation, playing along with memes dubbing her “QuaranTina Arena” and hopping on Instagram Live to chat with friends and fans.
But as a board member of the Australia Council, the Federal Government’s principal arts funding body, Arena says the government will need to do something to help the arts industry recover when the pandemic has finally passed.
“They have to do something. The arts community of Australia do not need to be on suicide watch. If it continues, that’s what is going to happen. It’s really serious. Support Act is a charity that supports the industry in times of need; they are fundamental, and I have been very vocal telling the government they need to inject cash into that charity now. Now! We cannot wait. I’m hoping that will happen very soon to immediately alleviate some pain.”
Arena has long been one of Australian music’s most outspoken figures. In 2018, she lent her voice to NOW Australia, a local response to the global #MeToo movement exposing sexual misconduct in entertainment and other industries.
In a self-penned piece published on news.com.au, Arena wrote that “the Australian music industry has always had a stagnant perspective towards females.
“Women have been speaking about sexual harassment for a long, long time. Women in the public eye did in the wake of Weinstein and they were called petulant. They called it out even though they were afraid they would not be employed, that they would put their careers in jeopardy.
When we did call it out, we lost opportunities, it’s a given,” she wrote.
“We need to raise the bar of our emotional intelligence because this is not a whinge, it’s not a social media trend and NOW Australia is going to keep the issue of sexual harassment at the forefront and do everything we possibly can to change the mentality that allows it to happen.
We’ve got a lot of work to do here.”