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Australia and NZ announce first insurance schemes

Victoria announces a 12-month scheme that will insure up to $230m of events while NZ debuts nationwide cancellation cover for large events

By IQ on 15 Nov 2021

Rhythm and Vines

Rhythm and Vines is New Zealand's biggest music festival

After more than 18 months of lobbying, Australia and New Zealand have announced country-first insurance schemes for live music.

In Australia, the Victorian government yesterday (14 November) announced plans to launch a 12-month pilot scheme that will insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events.

Subsidised by the government and delivered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), the cover will insure concerts, festivals, sporting events and conferences “against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

Organisers who have taken out the cover will receive 100% of the event’s declared value if the event has to be cancelled for the aforementioned reasons, or 50% of the event’s declared value if the event goes ahead with reduced capacity (or the organiser chooses to cancel the event because of those capacity restrictions).

The insurance will be available in December 2021 and more information can be found here. The premium is rumoured to cost 2% of the declared value of the event.

“For music lovers, it means your favourite festivals will be up and running again, and you’ll be able to book your tickets with confidence – and for industry, you’ll be protected whether your shows goes ahead or not,” Victoria premier Daniel Andrews wrote on Facebook.

The AFA has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the domestic industry but continues to call for a national solution

The Australian Festival Association (AFA) has called the scheme a “game-changer” for the industry but continues to call on other states and the federal government for a national solution.

“The inability to insure against Covid-related cancellations and restrictions has been a huge barrier to festivals getting back to business,” says AFA MD Julia Robinson.

“Health measures such as restrictions on gatherings and lockdowns, while necessary, often come with little or no notice making it difficult when festivals are months and years in the making. Access to a product that allows organisers the certainty to balance risk and safety with commercial reality would address this market failure, and it’s needed across the country.”

In addition to the scheme, the Victorian government has announced a $20m Live Music Restart package to bolster the recovery of the live music sector.

Music venues will benefit from a $8m programme to recruit and train new staff, invest in CovidSafe infrastructure and get more musicians and industry professionals back to work.

While music festivals and events will receive a leg up with $8m to help them recover from the uncertainty and impact of rescheduled and cancelled events due to the pandemic. A further $4m will bring music performances to the CBD and inner-city, complementing a previously announced $5 million for regional and outer-suburban events.

The support comes after Victoria’s sixth lockdown ended last month, with further restrictions on venue and festival capacity limits set to be scrapped in late November once the state has reached its 90% fully vaccinated target.

According to the AFA, “Victorian audiences usually enjoy over 150 music festivals each year, and just a handful have managed to get their gates open since the pandemic started”.

On 30 October, the state hosted Play On Victoria as its first ‘Covid Safe Test Event’, welcoming 4,000 people back to the Sidney Myer Music Bowl to watch Amyl and the Sniffers, Vika and Linda, Baker Boy, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Grace Cummings.

In New Zealand, the government recently announced that it will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000 vaccinated people, if organisers are forced to cancel or postpone due to Covid-19 public health measures.

Eligible events must implement the use of vaccine certificates, take place live and in-person, and have been in the market prior to the announcement of the scheme, according to the government’s criteria.

They will also have to be run by New Zealand organisations and not already be funded by other government sources such as the majors events fund or the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

The NZ government will cover 90% of “unrecoverable costs” for paid, ticketed events with audiences of more than 5,000

It will cover “actual direct costs” and organisers will have to agree to honour eligible costs incurred by suppliers.

The scheme will pay out for any events operating under alert level 2 or higher, or under the new traffic light scheme any events in an area under the new ‘red level’, or in a localised lockdown. At least 50% of the tickets will have had to be sold in order to qualify.

The event date must be scheduled to begin between 17 December 2021 and 3 April 2022 and organisers can only apply once for cancellation and once for postponement for an event.

The scheme, which is now live, has been welcomed by promoters of major events such as Rhythm & Vines (scheduled for December 2021) and Electric Avenue (slated for February 2022) but there are calls for smaller events to be included.

Insurance schemes have already been announced in the UK (£800m), Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m) Denmark (DKK 500m), France and Estonia (€6m).


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