The A$4 billion ($2.3 billion) live sector called out the government and national arts minister Paul Fletcher for a slow response to its request for an immediate A$650 million ($374 million) stimulus package to stave off collapse. Organizations met with Fletcher over days before his March 19 meeting with state arts ministers.
Fletcher was sympathetic to its argument that the industry was on par, in terms of urgency, to airlines and tourism. Its suggestions included instant welfare access, a cash injection to businesses to overcome cashflow in three months, and funding for venues, Support Act and gig livestream sites.
Not only did the ministers meeting defer a decision but on March 23, the government closed all entertainment venues and nightclubs. This will escalate figures on the “I Lost My Gig” site, which on March 21 reported that since attendance restrictions at festivals and venues, 255,000 events were canceled, 500,000 workers lost their jobs and the sector lost A$280 million ($160.9 million).
Live Performance Australia (LPA) and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance described the outright ban as a “death knell.”
LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson said, “Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die.”
The Night Time Industries Association’s new campaign, Keep Our Venues Alive, asked for, over the three months, suspension of business rates on venues’ aid for staff and contractors, tax relief, and fund landlords to waive rents.
Its chair, Michael Rodrigues, noted, “Inaction will result in some of our best loved pubs, restaurants, cafes, theatres and music venues closing down. The impact on the Australian economy and our local communities will be disastrous.”
Among those diagnosed with COVID-19 were singer songwriter Thelma Plum, Nine Network entertainment reporter Richard Wilkins who got it after interviewing US singer Rita Wilson (who was later hospitalized with husband, actor Tom Hanks) and a member of Melbourne rock band Ocean Grove after meet’n’greets in three cities.
The biz’s benevolent charity, Support Act, launched a A$20 million ($11.5 million) donation campaign as it steels itself for a flood of calls for aid.
It helps 300 to 400 cases a year. But in March, when bans started to bite, “We got more requests in the last two days than in the entire three months before,” CEO Clive Miller revealed.
Two of its major fundraisers were axed on the same day, leaving a shortfall of A$350,000 ($201,178). Music In The House, a 14-year event at NSW parliament, honors musicians’ achievements before politicians. CrewCare’s Roady4Roades, a day-long of live sets and crew skills displays, had in its inaugural 2019 added A$62,820 ($36,127) to Support Act’s Roadies Fund. This year it was scheduled to expand from five to 13 cities.
CrewCare has a number of fund-raisers in the pipeline. The first is Desk Tape Sessions, of shows by Australian acts taped by their crews. Co-founder Tony Moran emphasized, “Crews make up the biggest sector of arts workers, and was the first industry to collapse after the CV19 bans stopped dead five months of work.”
More Major Festivals Canceled Or Postponed
More major festivals have canceled. Blues On Broadbeach was to draw 220,000 May 14-17. The six-city Groovin’ The Moo (April 23 to May 8) draws over 100,000. Canberra’s Australian Folk Festival attracts 50,000.
Splendour In The Grass (50,000) rescheduled to Oct. 23-25 with headliners Flume, The Strokes and Tyler, The Creator confirmed to the new dates.
Bluesfest Byron Bay’s director, Peter Noble, revealed 30 artists on this year’s bill agreed to play the rescheduled dates in Easter 2021.
New Zealand Moves To Protect Biz
As more of New Zealand’s 1,400 venues shuttered after a new ruling restricting to 100 patrons, the government-funded Music Commission called on landlords to give rent relief, and for councils to offer tax relief to those who owned their buildings.
Arts development body Creative New Zealand set up a NZ$4.5 million ($1.97 million) package to support over will initially spend NZ$4.5 million ($2.53 million) in supporting more than 80 arts organisations, and in resilience grants for artists and musicians.
In the first 48 hours since the “I Lost My Gig NZ” survey was introduced, there were 300 submissions and NZ$3.2 million ($1.8 million) in lost revenue. An updated figure is due this week.
Music SA Chief Quits
Lisa Bishop, chief executive of South Australia’s peak music association MusicSA, leaves in April to spend more time on her board work and her family. In her five years, Bishop created the local artist showcases Scouted and Umbrella, took over the South Australian Music Awards, set up an annual Live Music Census, attracted national government funding and drew new sponsors.