News October 18, 2021

Victoria’s live sector launches petition to return to 100% capacity

Victoria’s live sector launches petition to return to 100% capacity
170 Russell Street, Melbourne

Save Our Scene, which represents the independent small to medium live music sector, has launched a petition aimed at the Victorian Government urging immediate action.

Firstly, it wants venues to immediately return to 100% capacity to start making money again.

“So many of our venues are at that point where they won’t survive the next two months,” Ben Thompson, booker at the 1,050-capacity 170 Russell in the Melbourne CBD, noted to TMN.

He estimates it costs between $5,000 and $20,000 weekly cover fixed costs of rent and insurance and main staff.

“It’s dire when you’re not trading and losing that kind of money,” he said.

In the meantime, developers are circling those venues in sought-after locations for rents to default and for leases to cancel.

Without that 100% certainty, it’s impossible to plan ahead for shows, said Simone Ubaldi.

Ubaldi and business partner Andrew Parisi co-run Sundowner, which operates the 900-capacity Croxton Bandroom and manages Amyl & The Sniffers and Grace Cummings.

“Large venues like ours have a three to six-month timeline in setting up a show, putting out the tickets and marketing it.

“And no-one [along the chain] gets paid until the show happens.”

For this reason, the petition further asks for ongoing, scaled financial support for music industry businesses and professionals until the whole sector returns to 100% capacity.

Finally, Save Our Scene calls for direct consultation with the sector in planning its recovery.

“We want to be part of the discussion to make that happen, which we haven’t been party to, and that is really important because no one knows our business better than we do,” Ubaldi stressed.

“We need to convey that wisdom to people who’re trying to help us.”

Last week the Save Our Scene committee met with arts minister Danny Pearson.

He was unable to provide a definite timeline but the meeting was described as “positive” and the minister as “a genuinely caring and supportive music fan”.

He was made aware of the need for the involvement of other government departments like small business and health.

The impact on the sector extends to people selling their assets, looking at bankruptcy and going into a deep meltdown.

Thompson said: “The toll on mental heath has been massive. There’s a lot of depression.”

Ubaldi summed up: “People are so incredibly defeated and disheartened.

“They need an incredible amount of strength and hope to rebuild what we had.”

Read Save Our Scene’s letter and sign the petition here.

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