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Oz live alliance ramps up appeal for Covid support

A nationwide insurance scheme has not been forthcoming for live music despite the government extending its fund for film and TV productions

By James Hanley on 12 Jan 2022

Sydney Opera House, Australia

Australian trade bodies are repeating calls for a government-backed insurance scheme for live music and events after an extension was announced to a fund helping the screen sector through the pandemic.

In November, the Victorian government unveiled plans for a 12-month pilot scheme to insure up to AUS$230 million (€148m) of events “against cancellation due to public health measures, or where events have reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

However, nationwide assistance has not been forthcoming despite the federal government extending its Temporary Interruption Fund (TIFF) for film and TV productions.

“The Temporary Interruption Fund for the Film industry was extended by $50m [€31.7m], yet the live music and entertainment industry’s calls over the past 18 months for a similar national scheme have fallen on deaf ears.,” says a statement by united live music and entertainment industry bodies including Live Performance Australia.

“Australia now lags behind New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia in delivering a solution to this issue. Victoria has already delivered an insurance scheme that is now set to be tested by the Omicron-related disruptions, but a national approach is needed if the live music and entertainment industry is going to ‘ride this wave’, survive and play its role living with the virus.”

“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected”

The sector’s recovery has been stopped in its tracks by the spread of the Omicron variant, which has led to mass cancellations and rescheduled events. The latest plea comes as three more Australian music festivals were cancelled or postponed in the space of 24 hours after New South Wales banned singing and dancing at unseated events.

NSW’s Grapevine Gathering fell by the wayside four days before it was due to take place, while touring metal and punk festival Full Tilt postponed its Brisbane edition until the end of April and cancelled its Adelaide concert set for 29 January.

“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected,” Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson tells the Guardian. “We appreciate the support we’ve had, but the government needs to step up and introduce a national scheme. Yes the states have a role, but it has been very disappointing that the federal government hasn’t led and pulled the states together and worked with them.

“We have people that haven’t been able to work for two years. Before Omicron, workers could get daily PCR tests to keep working, now they can’t even get rapid antigen tests. We’ve fallen into an abyss… the notion that it is all over and that we’ll ride through this, but that is not the reality we’re living in right now. We need support until things settle down.”


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