News April 27, 2021

New $750k fund to trigger Canberra’s live scene

New $750k fund to trigger Canberra’s live scene
The Basement Canberra

As more of Canberra’s live music venues inch towards 75% capacity, the ACT Government has set up the Amp It Up! fund to reinvigorate their comebacks.

Between June 1 and November 30, small and medium-sized live music venue operators in Canberra and the rest of the ACT can apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $60,000.

The definition of a small to medium venue, according to the fund, is one which turns over less than $10 million a year.

The funding will cover 100% of the costs of hiring musicians and production crew, and up to 50% of marketing and hosting live entertainment.

But at least half the acts booked under this funding have to be from Canberra or the ACT.

“Live music and performance venues are an important part of Canberra’s night-time economy and the character of our city, and integral to the development and employment of our talented local artists,” said minister for the arts, business and better regulation, Tara Cheyne.

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the onset of winter, our live music and performance venues are continuing to face financial stress.

“The ACT Government will provide urgent support to live music venues through the Amp It Up! fund to help the industry stay viable, provide new and more opportunities to artists, and keep Canberra’s night-time economy strong.

“Through this fund we hope to see a whole new calendar of live gigs in Canberra during 2021, offering audiences a great opportunity to get along to a live music, comedy or poetry performance and safely enjoy live entertainment again at one of the many amazing venues across the ACT.”

Applications for Amp It Up! open on May 3, with MusicACT to assist in the fund’s administration and liaise with venue operators.

The Basement Canberra in Belconnen, which went through a refurbishment to expand its capacity to 700 patrons and three stages, was given permission to return to 75% in April.

The fund could help with its Metal United Down Under Canberra festival on June 12.

Smith’s Alternative in Civic’s Melbourne Building also returned to 75% capacity and covers music, poetry, comedy, burlesque, theatre, literary events, cabaret, vaudeville, art gallery openings, performance art and dance parties.

Owner Nigel McRae reported to the Canberra Times that his venue closed for three months last year. When it reopened, its capacity fell from 100 to 24, and revenue dropped 25%.

One band played three shows in a row to sell 72 tickets to make the exercise worthwhile.

“I had to turn down acts last year,” said McRae. “Now I can tell them I can pay them to come.”

For full details, see here.

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