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News June 15, 2021

San Cisco seek compensation from Queensland Government due to venue closure

San Cisco seek compensation from Queensland Government due to venue closure

Perth indie-rock act San Cisco are seeking financial compensation from the Queensland Palaszczuk Government after a Sunshine Coast music venue was closed down a day out from their scheduled sold-out performance.

Birtinya venue the NightQuarter was served a closure notice less than 24 hours before San Cisco’s show by Queensland Health and uniformed police officers on Friday June 11 after video footage depicted alleged COVID breaches during a Spacey Jane concert the weekend prior.

San Cisco, booking agents Select Music and the band’s management are now asking for compensation from the Queensland Government after subsequently cancelling the show, which was sold out and expected to gross approximately $60,00 in revenue.

The band will be seeking a payout for the direct losses of the show’s cancellation as well as potential further losses due to the concert not going ahead, with no date yet being confirmed for a replacement show.

Throughout their complaint, the band argue that they could have rearranged their show for other venues, saved money on transport and accommodation and wage costs for touring personnel if further notice had been given.

The complaint also claims that NightQuarter was given no right of reply or chance to enforce stronger COVID restrictions in the lead-up to the show, with the band also noting that they had been forced to postpone four Victorian shows the week prior due to the state’s recent outbreak.

San Cisco’s manager Philip Stevens claimed that the cancellation would likely result in the band and support act Jaguar Jonze losing money from their tour, noting that San Cisco’s Between You and Me tour has already been rescheduled numerous times.

“As an independent band, like many others, San Cisco rely on live music as their primary source of income. Not only did San Cisco miss out, but so did Brisbane artist Jaguar Jonze, who is supporting all shows on this tour,” Stevens said.

“The loss of the NightQuarter show will mean the band will lose money on this tour. The tour, in support of their album release for Between You and Me, has already been moved many times.”

Stevens also noted that the crowd behaviour at the NightQuarter the week prior is “no different to that experienced at sporting events around the state in the very same week”.

“As of this point in time no cases of COVID have been attributed to gatherings of people at music concerts throughout Australia. So why are venues and concerts still being targeted by State Governments as dangerous activities in comparison to major sporting events that are occurring every week?

“The arts industry is suffering, especially the hundreds of musicians who have no clear pathway forwards for their careers.”

Select Music booking agent Stephen Wade voiced similar sentiments and backed the band’s compensation claim, labelling the move from Queensland Health as an “overreaction” and calling for the over-policing of live music events to be addressed by relevant authorities.

“The live music industry has endured more than most during this pandemic and is still not back to 100% 16 months after COVID closed our industry down. The weekend’s actions have to stop and the over-policing of live music events needs to be addressed immediately,” Wade said.

“We are still yet to see any documentation from Queensland Health or any health department in Australia giving us an explanation as to why our events are deemed so dangerous to the health of the general public, and all we are asking for is a fair go, bearing in mind that there has still not been a single transmission of COVID-19 at a ticketed live music event in Australia ever.”

When approached for comment, a spokesperson from Queensland Health told The Music Network that the order to close the NightQuarter was not due to an isolated incident and was the result of multiple breaches.

“The overwhelming majority of Queensland’s entertainment and hospitality businesses have complied with the public health directions to keep their customers and the broader community safe. Many have gone above and beyond, such is their concern for the health of their patrons.” a spokesperson from Queensland Health said.

“The order to close NightQuarter’s Main Stage Precinct did not come about because of an isolated incident. Since November 2020, we have investigated several complaints by members of the community and Queensland Police Service.

In that time, we identified multiple breaches relating to the precinct exceeding occupant density and, as a result, patrons being unable to physically distance. Prior to the closure order, Queensland Health issued warnings and met with NightQuarter’s operators at least four times to help them operate under the plan.

“We support the live entertainment industry and will always work with operators to ensure they can continue to operate. Our primary job, however, is to protect the health of Queenslanders and that is what we are doing.”

The move to seek compensation echoes one in New South Wales, in which a major festival promoter sent a $70,000 invoice to the NSW Government over lost income due to shutdowns and event cancellations.

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