Aussie live sector says it has ‘fallen into an abyss’ after repeated calls for a national insurance scheme have ‘fallen on deaf ears’
An alliance of music and event associations have collectively called for a COVID business interruption insurance akin to what was given to Australia’s film and TV industries.
Coincidentally, the plea was made on the same day that four more music festivals were either cancelled or postponed due to new restrictions in some states.
TMN reported that day on the dozen live music events that had been affected by the Omicron strain in recent weeks and the specific financial losses.
The latest call was made by the Association of Artist Managers, Australian Festival Association, the Australian Live Music Business Council, Australian Music Industry Network, APRA AMCOS, ARIA, PPCA, the Live Entertainment Industry Forum and Live Performance Australia.
It came hours after the federal government announced it was extending the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund (TIFF) to help the screen sector through the continued uncertainty.
It was to have finished on December 31, 2021 but Screen Producers Australia (SPA) lobbied for an extension arguing that similar schemes in the UK and Canada had also been prolonged.
Under TIF, up to 60% of the total budget of a project, or $4 million (whichever is less) is available should a COVID-19 event occur in either the last two weeks of pre-production or during filming.
The fund has helped 77 screen productions, with an average of 346 people employed and 162 businesses supported on each production.
“Yet the live music and entertainment industry’s calls over the past 18 months for a similar national scheme have fallen on deaf ears,” the associations said in a joint statement.
“Australia now lags behind New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia in delivering a solution to this issue.”
Pictured: Grapevine Gathering festival / Source: Facebook
Four more festivals were pulled off the slate within a 24-hour timeframe.
Grapevine Gathering was scrapped days from its January 15 show at Roche Estate NSW with Peking Duk, The Jungle Giants, Vera Blue, The Veronicas and San Cisco.
The metal/punk Full Tilt, headlined by Northlane, also cancelled its January 29 Adelaide show, after earlier postponing its Brisbane stop to April.
Hope Rocks, presented by Hope Estate, was postponed from February 5.
Bendigo Blues & Roots Music in regional Victoria, which had been earlier rescheduled to February 10-13, has been postponed to November, its usual timeslot.
“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected,” LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson told The Guardian.
“We appreciate the support we’ve had, but the government needs to step up and introduce a national scheme. Yes, the states have a role, but it has been very disappointing that the federal government hasn’t led and pulled the states together and worked with them.”
Richardson explained how the latest strain more adversely affected the sector than Delta.
“We have people that haven’t been able to work for two years. Before Omicron, workers could get daily PCR tests to keep working, now they can’t even get rapid antigen tests.
“We’ve fallen into an abyss… the notion that it is all over and that we’ll ride through this, but that is not the reality we’re living in right now.
“We need support until things settle down.”
A Music Victoria meeting on January 10, with 70 venues, was told how new density caps cut business by 70% and public caution had seen 60% of no shows at sold out shows in January.