Business owners, John and Joy Thorpe are hoping they won’t be forced to empty the candy bar and close the doors of the Gawler Cinema when JobKeeper ends next week.
Five senior staff, including John and Joy and three others, have been relying on JobKeeper payments to keep their employment viable since the pandemic began last year, but with payments due to cease on March 28, the future of the cinema, which has been in operation for 32 years, is unclear.
“I care about everybody here, but if tough decisions have to be made, the worse scenario is we close the doors and walk away,” Joy said.
It’s been a rough year for the entertainment industry, with independent cinemas across South Australia reporting a 70 percent drop in box office takings.
While popular seniors’ screenings and a strong line-up of Australian releases has helped Gawler Cinema stay afloat, according to the Thorpes, recovery is slow.
“I think because we don’t have any active (COVID) cases, people just assume that your business is back to where it was, but we haven’t recovered,” Joy said.
“I don’t think anyone will see the repercussions until after the 31st when we don’t have (JobKeeper) available. We’re a small family business and we’ve got no money to pay the wages.”
John and Joy are hopeful that the Government will announce further assistance to help top up businesses like theirs until the industry regains momentum, otherwise they may be forced to cut jobs.
“The moral of the story is, Hollywood have got all these films waiting to go, but they won’t release them basically because America’s been shut for a long while, and that’s their biggest box office,” John explained.
“If the Government can help us through to October, then I think everyone will be safe and sound.”
Independent Senator Rex Patrick last week called on the Government to make an immediate commitment to provide financial support to Australia’s independent cinemas post-JobKeeper.
“Forty-one of South Australia’s 51 cinemas are independent cinemas, many of them small and family businesses, and they need ongoing support if they are to make it through the COVID-19 economic crisis,” Senator Patrick said.
“I strongly support the detailed proposals submitted to the Government by Independent Cinemas Australia for grants to ensure these businesses survive COVID-19.”
In the meantime, John and Joy say they will wait with “baited breath” for news, while encouraging patrons to continue to come out to the cinema.
“We haven’t heard anything, and sometimes it’s a bit hard with the staff, they want to know what’s going on and we say, we don’t know, and that’s an honest answer,” Joy said.
“Obviously getting support from the people is the most important thing.”