NSW venues call for ‘immediate’ govt support to stave off closures
Music venues from across NSW have joined forces to call for support from the state government, in an open letter that suggests 85% of all live venues are at risk of closure in the next year.
Independent venues from Wagga Wagga to Wollongong, Bondi to Byron Bay to have signed on, calling on the government to help cover a $70m shortfall in lost income over the past six months as COVID-19 has sent the live music scene into a tailspin.
“With the biggest music industry in the country, NSW is home to some of Australia’s greatest artists and performers, biggest crowds and world-class stages,” reads the letter.
“Our music creates a sense of pride, gives us a voice, introduces us to new ideas, new friends, new hope. Live music is our lifeblood and our lifeline in times of crisis.”
Save Our Stages positions the pandemic as something of a final straw, after years of struggling through prohibitive government legislation, including Sydney’s lockout laws.
“After six years of lockout laws, devastating bushfires and now the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, the venues that have survived through hard work and ingenuity can no longer do it alone.
“This is not just about live music – venues build community, boost the economy, improve wellbeing, and drive tourism. And importantly, they provide artists with places to share their music with fans and find new audiences.”
Pointing out that live music contributes $3.6 billion to the NSW economy annually, as well as employing 23,000 people, the letter says that artist careers “will become almost impossible to maintain”.
“Live performance is essential to an artist’s career development and makes up around 70% of their music income,” it said.
Save Our Stages also noted recent commitments by the Queensland and Victorian Governments to support their venues.
Earlier this week, Victoria announced a $13m lifeline for 106 venues across the state, with Premier Daniel Andrews telling the industry “we don’t want to lose Victoria’s music scene”.
Now, it’s time for the NSW Government to act similarly and safeguard the future of the industry, the petition contended.
“We call on the NSW Government to work with MusicNSW and industry representatives to devise a stimulus package that will ensure the ongoing survival of our venues. A package that will support the artists and communities who depend on live music for their existence.”
Put simply, “there is too much at stake”.
To sign the petition, read the letter in full and check out the full list of venues head to Save Our Stages NSW.