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News June 11, 2021

Live sector sends open letter to Victoria’s chief health officer, pleading to bring Melbourne back to life

Live sector sends open letter to Victoria’s chief health officer, pleading to bring Melbourne back to life
Falls Festival Lorne

Victoria’s live sector has banded together and sent an open letter, pleading with the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton to work with the entertainment, hospitality, arts and culture industries to safely ease restrictions as soon as possible.

The industries believe the state urgently needs a roadmap and timeline to return to pre-lock down settings, in order for the sector to plan and survive.

“Melbourne has long prided itself on being the food, cultural and entertainment capital of Australia but the repeated lockdowns, coupled with a very slow return to viable venue operational capacities, are having a crippling long-term effect and have brought our industries to the brink of collapse,” the letter said.

“Our city is recognised as the live music capital of the world with more live music venues (538) per capita than any other city in the world, and countless renowned restaurant and hospitality venues.

“Yet our sectors are facing financial ruin due to a lack of trust, understanding and meaningful dialogue.

“For social, creative and economic reasons we must be trusted to literally stand on our own two feet. Trust us, we won’t let you down.”

The signatories also pointed out that without JobKeeper and ongoing rental relief, a delayed reactivation will erode the already tenuous financial viability of businesses.

“Without JobKeeper support and ongoing rental relief, a delayed reactivation will erode the already tenuous financial viability of our businesses.”

The letter also let Sutton know how willing the signatories are to work with the State Government within its guidelines, and do things properly.

“Each business sector had already lodged and been approved for a COVID-Safe mode of operation and compliance.

“We, therefore, see no reason for the imposition of blanket reduced capacities and other restrictions across all environments as we emerge from this extended lock-down.

“Our businesses already meet the highest level of compliance in our day-to-day operations with respect to ticketed attendances, reservation systems, enforced QR Code check-in, and patron flow management.”

Signatories include head names from Live Nation, Mushroom Group, TEG, Hardware, Unified Music Group, Premier Artists, Untitled Group, Onelove, A Day on The Green, Falls Festival, Festival X, Babylon Festival, Ability Fest, Live Performance Australia, Australian Festival Association, Music Victoria, Palais Theatre, Max Watts, 170 Russell, Her Majesty’s Theatre, The Night Cat, The Tote, Prince Bandroom, Evelyn Hotel, Missy Higgins, The Amity Affliction, Illy, Clowns, Bodyjar, Natalie Bassingthwaighte and Claire Bowditch.

The full text of the open letter is here.

In addition, Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson has argued the live entertainment industry could not continue to reopen at reduced capacity every time there was a snap lockdown.

“Companies have lost millions of dollars, hundreds of performances have been cancelled, staff have been stood down, regional tours within Victoria and interstate have been disrupted or now won’t go ahead,” she said of the latest round of restrictions.

“This is a massive blow for an industry only just getting back on its feet. Like many other industries, including hospitality and cinema, reopening at reduced capacity is not financially viable.”

Richardson said music venues had already proven through QR code compliance, rapid contact tracing, testing and mask wearing, they could return to 100% capacity.

“Professor Sutton has said that there is not much benefit in prolonged restrictions and that what is needed is super sensitive surveillance systems and contact tracing.

“Victoria has those in place. We need to have confidence in our systems and response teams.”

Richardson echoed the sentiment of the live music sector that 70% of Australians should be fully vaccinated by Christmas.

According to Save Our Scene, the Victorian live music sector contributes over $1.7 billion per year in GDP (including ancillary spending by patrons) and on an annual basis 116,000 full time equivalent jobs are created through live music, with every $1 spent on live music returning $3 in value.


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