The Carriageworks arts precinct. (Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

The one sector in Australia not getting back to business as usual, and with no hint of imminent resuscitation, continues to be the performing arts.

Many museums and galleries are reopening from June, but the music and theatre worlds have no idea on just how many more months they will be completely shuttered.

Recognising the need to be visible, some of the major theatre companies like Belvoir and the Sydney Theatre Company (STC) are offering a flurry of livestreaming events this weekend.

But it was the tiny and more nimble local company Redline Productions which was first to do a full live play-reading back in early April — featuring no less than Alex Baldwin from home in the US.

Darlinghurst Theatre came up with an innovative idea to provide personalised cabaret to 10 people in its theatre restaurant, and other smaller companies are informally discussing an alliance to further their cause.

Like top restaurants reluctant to sully themselves with takeaway at the outset of the pandemic, needs must.

The sector has rightly been screaming for more support from the start but it has mostly been in vain; in large part blamed on the lack of lobbying power compared with the likes of mining, fossil fuel, and sports.

It must be galling for the most frequented and beloved of all industries — the one to which most people turned to get them through the lockdown.

Perhaps the name “arts” is part of the problem, given the elitist connotations, and it should simply be called the entertainment industry — which in total has more customers than all the sports codes combined.

The lack of political sway is notable given the corporate heavyweights that have overtaken the boards of most major arts companies in recent years, ostensibly because of their great networking abilities.

But some like Opera Australia Chair David Mortimer are at the end of their long careers while others like STC Chair Ian Narev and Australia Ballet Chair Craig Dunn had theirs cut short by the Hayne Royal Commission.

Sydney’s independent Carriageworks precinct, which went into voluntary administration last month, had seen board bailouts even before the pandemic exacerbated the financial issues.

And let’s not forget the performance of former STC Chair David Gonski when George Brandis began the destruction of the sector in 2015 with the appropriately named “Catalyst” policy.

Gonski agreed not to publicly criticise the government, and even encouraged fellow arts companies to follow his damaging public silence.

That working-behind-the-scenes strategy, as they are now discovering, is often far less effective than using public figures to garner support. It’s not like the entertainment industry is short of high profile names to make its case.

You know, actual stars.

So where are the big international names leading the campaign to win over the public to then pressure the pollies?

What a shame Cate Blanchett is no longer artistic director of the STC. Who can forget how enamoured of her former PM Kevin Rudd was during the Australia 2020 Summit.

We are well aware that we don’t have an arts-loving Labor government in power, but surely it can’t be that hard to find some star power to hammer home the cause.

A Hemsworth is always popular (just ask Julie Bishop). Nicole Kidman or Hugh Jackman or Margot Robbie could be part of a campaign by those here who make world class content.

Sure, we have plenty of fine, well loved artists at home who are avidly mounting the case, but the sad fact is no one has the cut-through of a big Hollywood name. 

The luvvies who criticise the PM for being a footy-loving bogan who will never understand their plight might wish they had someone who could get through to him as well as the general public.

We need a star who could possibly have any NRL credentials, who is equally at home at a footy game as on the big screen, who could push the case for his fellow actors and creatives…

What’s that bloke Russell Crowe doing at the moment?