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News March 13, 2020

Live industry calls for government response as concerts cancel, warns ‘we expect this to get worse’

Senior Journalist, B2B
Live industry calls for government response as concerts cancel, warns ‘we expect this to get worse’

With the Coronavirus potentially stripping hundreds of millions of dollars — and thousands of jobs — from Australia’s live industry, the touring space will get worse before it gets better. And government needs to step in immediately with a solid plan, and cash.

That’s the line from Live Performance Australia, which issued a plea to Canberra on Friday (March 13) following a spate of cancellations across the local and global events circuit.

Due to escalating disruption caused by COVID-19 and based on information from health officials, says LPA Chief Executive, Evelyn Richardson, “we expect this to get worse.”

Richardson and her trade association call on leaders to urgently develop a strategy to support Australia’s live performance industry, valued at $2.5 billion.

‘’In the event that governments upgrade their public health response to COVID-19 which forces the cancellation of live performance events, they need to in the short term urgently develop a targeted relief package to keep businesses operating,” she explains.

LPA also proposes a federal government-administered programme similar to farm relief to open-up to prompt social security payments in a scenario where the “live sector is shut-down or significant loss of trade” is felt.

It’s the first time the live industry has pondered a worst-case situation: a total shut-down.

Consideration should be given to extending the wage subsidy of fifty percent for apprentices and trainees to artists, performers, creatives and technical crew, Richardson continues.

‘’We believe it’s possible to design measures that are targeted, scalable and temporary in terms of their budgetary impact,” she adds, “and which could be lifted once the current public health crisis is resolved.”

For now, it’s “business as usual,” insists the LPA, repeating its measured response from recent days.

If you’ve had the misfortune of scanning your inbox or the Web this morning, it’s a bloodbath.

The two-date Download Festival has been cancelled, as its producer Live Nation reportedly suspends all shows, everywhere.

LN’s Australian concerts line-up includes internationals Harry Styles, Alanis Morissette, Rod Stewart and many more.

Live Nation’s main rival AEG, which has a joint venture in Australia with Frontier Touring, is also halting its tours. LN, AEG and agencies CAA, WME, Paradigm and UTA are taking matters in their owns hands by forming a “global task force” to shape procedures and protocols in the “best interest of artists, fans, staff, and the global community,” Variety reports.

As the World Health Organization declares the outbreak a pandemic, Australia’s live scene is feeling the sting. Just this week, Miley Cyrus pulled out of a bushfire benefit concert in Melbourne due to the global health crisis, and Tasmania’s Dark Mofo 2020, featuring performances from Bon Iver, among others, was shut down.

On Thursday, Pixies’ tour of Australia ended early with five dates left on the itinerary. Andrew McManus’ Under the Southern Stars featuring +Live+, Bush and Stone Temple Pilots will be pushed back to 2021.

Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks and his musician wife Rita Wilson are currently isolated in a Gold Coast hospital after the pair were diagnosed with Coronavirus. Hanks is in Australia filming Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic, production of which has been temporarily shut down.

Overseas, the picture is stark. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame ceremony was canned overnight as was the C2C European Country Music Festival, Lollapalooza Argentina and more, while the NBA took the extraordinary step of putting its season on ice with the playoffs just weeks away.

LPA’s plea coincides with the federal government’s launch of a $30 million COVID-19 education campaign.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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