The Story of The Save The Arts Campaign

Photo Credit - Ollie Griffiths
James Bustar - Entertainer Turned Activist

The life of an entertainer can be a precarious one, something Australian comedian and juggler James Bustar knows full well. However, nothing could have prepared him for the heavy price the Australian arts community would pay with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has affected every aspect of the arts and entertainment sector, everyone from shoemakers for production shows, to lighting designers, to circus performers,” James has noted.


In an effort to highlight these difficulties James has spent the past 18 months bringing together artists from all over the world to collaborate on videos that entertain as well as educate. Kicking it off with the wildly successful ‘An Apple a Day’ project – which saw apples lobbed from screen to screen by 110+ participants across seven countries – James did what he did best, raising spirits through laughter and levity and demonstrating the powerful role the arts play within the community.

He didn’t stop there. With the creation of the Save the Arts campaign, he sought to raise awareness of the governmental neglect and lack of industry-specific support that was decimating the artistic community of Australia. This led to a searing video detailing the devastating effects of the pandemic on the mental health and financial security of artists and entertainers, seemingly forgotten by the government. While this video, containing interviews with over 30 professionals from all parts of the entertainment sector, was successful in attracting media attention and elucidating the plight of Australia’s artistic community, it was not enough, and James decided that a more direct approach was needed.



Together with Lindsay Webb and Mark McConville he penned an open letter to the Federal Government, a powerful piece of writing that detailed the lack of any effective initiative to kickstart performing arts, the contemptuous neglect evidenced by the lack of a designated arts minister and the double standard displayed with the prioritisation of other industries, such as sport.



James knows that the creative arts are part of a healthy, flourishing Australia, and he won’t rest until the government knows this too.

Mark McConville - GradCert Sui Prev Studies; MSui.

Mark is an accomplished Stand-Up Comedian, MC and Keynote Speaker and has been working in the Australian entertainment industry since 1998. In 2018 Mark graduated from Griffith University with a Masters Degree in Suicidology, he subsequently was appointed as Adjunct Lecture at The Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention AISRAP, based at Griffith University.


Mark’s Laughter Clinic combines comedy and laughter with the latest information and research in the field of Suicidology to produce a fun, yet very powerful experience that is focused on reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. As Mark evolves from one of Australia’s leading headline comedians into that of an advocate for Mental Health and The Arts, his message becomes more relevant than ever, given what we are all currently going through with the pandemic.


I’m a firm believer in encouraging people to experience ‘the arts’ in all its creative forms, as it’s been shown repeatedly to be beneficial to our mental health and can help reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety and depression. We therefore need to acknowledge ‘the arts’ as a viable and valuable industry, for its monetary contribution to our country, for its cultural significance, as well as for its mental health benefits.”

Lindsay Webb - Comedian, Arts Advocate

Lindsay is truly an International act worthy of the title, with a unique, homespun story to tell. From humble beginnings on a sheep & cattle station, Lindsay learned the art of humour young.


With a love of digital media, he’s a regular guest on Wil Andersons “TOFOP” Podcast, and can be heard on popular “The Dollop” Podcast as well his own popular podcast “What’s Your Name, What do you Do?” Available on iTunes. He also Hosted Corp Podcasts for BP Australia (CBBP Podcast). Lindsay Hosted a Number 1 Breakfast Show on 91.9 Sea Fm for four years ending in 2005 & has also been a fill in presenter with 612 ABC Brisbane, can frequently be found doing guest appearances on TV & radio programs such as “Stand up Australia”, “Good News Week” (CH 10) & “The Footy Show” (CH 9). “7Days” (TV3NZ).


He’s supported many great acts, including Wil Anderson and Jim Jeffries, Brad Garret, Martin Short, Wayne Brady, Jimeoin and was a guest comic on The Darren Sanders Show on Chanel GO. With a seemingly endless skillset, Lindsay can also be found doing the crowd warm-ups for such prodigious TV shows as: Gruen Nation (ABC), Q&A (ABC) & Save Your Life Tonight (ABC), Ch 9 Telethon Brisbane and Australia’s Got Talent (to name a few).