Live biz welcomes NSW ‘Event Saver’ program, reiterates calls for national disruption scheme
With the Omnicron variant all but destroying the live industry’s first-quarter comeback, the NSW government unveils its own disruption scheme, a statewide support network for festivals and events whose plans are scuppered by the health crisis.
The NSW Government’s so-called “Event Saver” fund is designed to prop-up live events with financial support in these bleak and unpredictable times.
Australia’s music sector has welcomed the initiative, which is announced as Omicron surges across NSW and much of the country, and ruins the live industry’s blueprint for a full-scale return.
The support comes in a nick of time and the cash should go a “long way” to providing confidence for the live industry through the year, explains Australian Festival Association Managing Director Julia Robinson.
“Since the pandemic struck in March 2020, we’ve seen countless festivals cancel or postpone, leaving promoters and suppliers out of pocket,” Robinson says. “This fund will ensure organisers can recover some of their costs in the event their show cannot proceed due to a Public Health Order in 2022.”
This fund, she continues, “demonstrates a shared aim with the NSW Government to see festivals and live music return to NSW as quickly and safely as possible.”
Announced on the weekend, the Event Saver provides financial assistance to organisers of “major events” in NSW scheduled to be held between Wednesday, 15 December 2021 and Saturday, 31 December 2022 where an event is cancelled or “significantly disrupted as a direct result of Public Health Orders (PHO)”.
The Event Saver is a good start, but it’s not enough.
Its rollout follows repeated calls for help from across the live music and entertainment sector.
Just last week, a cadre of peak bodies issued a call out to Minister for the Arts Paul Fletcher after the Federal Government extended the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIFF), which would help the screen sector through the continued uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The AFA had joined forces with AAM, ALMBC, AMIN, APRA AMCOS, ARIA, PPCA, LEIF and LPA to call on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers to deliver a government-backed insurance scheme.
Victoria got there first. Late last year, Dan Andrews’ government announced a business interruption scheme, similar to those that have already kicked off in Europe, the U.K. and New Zealand, and which is available to film and TV productions in Australia via TIFF.
Until every state and territory is on board with similar measures, notes Robinson, live entertainment will be under the pump.
“The inability to insure against COVID related cancelations and restrictions has been a huge barrier to festivals getting back to business across the country. We continue to call on the Commonwealth Government to step in and co-contribute to current state-based insurance and cancellation schemes to enable this nationally touring industry to get back to delivering shows to fans across Australia,” she adds.
“We welcome today’s announcement and look forward to working with the NSW Government to achieve the shared aim of seeing live music back at festivals,” Robinson concludes.
APRA AMCOS CEO Dean Ormston echoed those comments.
“The announcement by the NSW Government to establish an Event Saver Fund is an important first step in ensuring that the live music industry in NSW can survive this latest wave,” he says in a statement issued late Monday.
“However, we urge the NSW Government to also provide direct support to the artists, sole traders and small to medium businesses through a wage subsidy program, crisis support through Support Act and micro-business grants.”
The COVID crisis is said to have “obliterated” the live entertainment industry, by draining $1.4 billion in revenue and reducing the sector by 70%.
As the music industry enters its “third year of devastation,” notes Ormston, the PRO’s latest data paints a grim picture.
Live music activity in December, the traditional peak season for the industry, was at 6 per cent of the pre-COVID period, he notes.
For more on the Event Saver program and to file an Expressions of Interest visit the Create NSW website.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.