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News April 8, 2021

Forget the positive headlines, New Zealand’s live industry is suffering (Op-Ed)

Gray Bartlett
Forget the positive headlines, New Zealand’s live industry is suffering (Op-Ed)

-By Gray Bartlett MBE, Vice President of NZ Concert Promoters Association

The live industry’s troubles in Australia are well reported, and they reached fever pitch in the press last week when Bluesfest was cancelled on the eve of its 2021 show.

On the other side of the ditch, the problems are arguably greater. Though you wouldn’t know it, based on some of the glowing reports.

The NZ government has been truly missing in action when it comes to supporting our music industry.

At least Australia had JobKeeper, which recently came to end. Our industry had nothing.

That’s not entirely accurate; there were two-or-three months of handouts worth $585 per week, which didn’t cover food and gas, let alone industry professionals’ rent.

All of that ended on September 12, 2020.

Since then, we have had zero. Not a dollar of support from our government, and a total mess at the border.

Our industry here is devastated. In NZ, we will lose 70-80% of our industry, and there is no support on the horizon.

We certainly cannot survive on a few local efforts.

Apart from serving as Vice President of the New Zealand Promoters Association (NZPA), I am also one of a limited number of Government-approved (MBIE) promoters tasked with visa entry into NZ for international artists.

This was designed to allow those selected to bring international artists and musicians into the country. The idea being that this process would allow acts to proceed through seamlessly. Just present our official letter along with all their correct papers to immigration at the airport and step on in.

It hasn’t proved as seamless as all that. Our government has largely ignored our position.

I’ve had four Oscar and Grammy-winning producers from the U.S. unable to enter our borders, while their application clearly showed they were spending $1.275 million on 102 local film and recording crew here, on top of spending major funds on a local recording studio.

Fees for rejected applications are not refunded.

New Zealand is far from being in a good situation, as the authorities introduce onerous legislation in new taxes that will kill incentive for most innovative Kiwis.

Add to that, our government has not met with our people this year, and responses are few and far between.

Spare a thought for your cousins on this side of the Tasman. We’re doing it tough. There’s no lifeline. And we need support from the highest levels to get through this.

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


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