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Australian fans clamour for return of int’l artists

More than four fifths of Australians say they consider international artists to be a significant factor in their decision to attend live events in future, according to a major new survey commissioned by Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF).

LEIF, a pan-industry body whose members include Live Nation, TEG, AEG Presents, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment and WME, commissioned Ersnt & Young (EY) to survey 35,000 Australian consumers to identify their attitudes towards live shows and expectations for a safe return to live performances.

Among EY’s findings are that over 80% of those surveyed considered overseas artists a “significant” or “very significant” factor in whether they would attend a concert, and that fans want live events with larger crowd numbers to return this year, with more than 80% also keen to see live events return with greater crowd numbers by November 2021.

Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and co-chair of LEIF, saysthe results underline the need for the Australian federal and state governments to align with leading promoters to ensure vaccinated international acts and their crews can enter the country and move around easily in Covid-safe travel bubbles for shows and festivals throughout the coming summer.

“We already know that international superstars love to tour Australia and that we offer them the best fans, the best weather and the best food in the world,” comments Jones. “We also know that shows by international artists generate 80% of concert ticket sales by value. They also generate the greatest economic benefit for our country through tourism, travel, hospitality and other industries, and to our own industry, which has been ravaged by the pandemic.

“EY’s findings show that Aussie fans are hungry for the world’s biggest performers to return to our shores and tour our beautiful country.”

“Aussie fans are hungry for the world’s biggest performers to return to our shores and tour our beautiful country”

Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific and co-chair of LEIF, agrees: “Other international markets are beginning to reopen and offer alternative touring options for artists, so it is absolutely critical that we reach rapid alignment with the federal and state and territory governments at national cabinet level to ensure Australia does not miss out on this vital opportunity for the live entertainment industry to recover from the worst year in its long and storied history.”

Amid fresh lockdown measures to quash the current outbreaks of Covid-19, EY’s survey also spotlights the positive impact that live entertainment has on the nation’s mental health, showing that three-quarters of Australians saying they consider live events an important part of their work, social and family life.

Julia Robinson, general manager of the Australian Festivals Association, says: “EY’s study shows how vital live experiences are to social cohesion and wellbeing. Events bring us together. They can inspire and move us. Live entertainment is the antidote to last year’s disconnection, and we know audiences around Australia continue to miss their festivals, concerts and events.”

Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson says the best call to action for fans to help the live entertainment industry is to go and get vaccinated: “If we want keep our theatre and venue doors open, and we want to see our favourite performers on stage, the most important thing we can do right now is to get vaccinated. Not only will it keep our communities, families, friends and colleagues safe, it will ensure the future of our industry. Don’t wait. Do it now so we can welcome the world’s greatest acts back to the country that they love visiting and performing in.”

LEIF’s executive committee includes the heads of TEG, Live Nation, Chugg Entertainment, AEG Presents, Frontier Touring, WME, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Olympic Parks, Adelaide Oval, Venues West, Venues Live, ASM Global, Michael Cassel Group, Stadiums Queensland, Live Performance Australia, Australian Festivals Association, and Venue Management Association.

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Evelyn Richardson & Glen Rainsbury

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with LEIF’s Evelyn Richardson and Glen Sainsbury, who follow Paul Reed of the Association of Independent Festivals.


In late May of 2020, when it was clear that the industry was looking at a long and uncertain return to normal operations as Australia came to grips with the Covid-19 pandemic, the concept of the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF) was brought to life by TEG chief executive Geoff Jones and Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific.

They enlisted key players from across the music, sport and venues sectors to form an executive committee that was representative of virtually every industry sector and each state and territory across the country – the first time that parties from the full breadth of the entertainment industry had gathered around a table to collectively advocate for the industry.

One of the key deliverables identified in the first meetings was to develop guidance for the industry to which venues and promoters could operate as safely as possible in the new Covid world – a task that Frontier Touring’s Glen Rainsbury was asked to co-ordinate.

“Working with LEIF chairman James Sutherland, we developed a structure that included ten separate working groups led by subject matter experts,” says Rainsbury. “The teams were tasked with developing guidance specific to their areas of expertise and which had to be general enough to be applicable to a broad range of event settings and reflect the regulatory advice of every state and territory, and venue types from clubs to stadiums. It required a very particular approach and discipline.”

“The work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals, and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans”

Rainsbury says the commitment of the 50+ contributors was immense. In a matter of weeks, the heavy lifting was largely complete and it was a case of honing the mountain of submissions into a cohesive work. “As it stands, the work has been used by clubs, arenas, stadiums, festivals and promoters in the development of their Covid-safe plans on their way back to operating,” he says.

Various states and territories have also drawn upon the guidelines in drafting their solutions, while Rainsbury and Tim McGregor, also from LEIF, have become the sole representatives from the commercial sector on the National Covid-19 Arts and Health and Advisory Committee.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people from across the industry who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly. It was the team’s fine work and effort,” adds Rainsbury.

As the chief executive of Live Performance Australia, Evelyn Richardson’s dedication to the live entertainment sector has never been in question, but while many in the industry were forced to pause their careers, Richardson doubled down on her workload to help LEIF lobby for assistance.

“It was a privilege to work with the extraordinarily talented people … who gave their time and IP to deliver something that has assisted the industry to bounce back so quickly”

With LEIF’s support, the LPA led the industry advocacy for federal government to provide emergency funding to the live entertainment industry. The A$250 million (€156m) package provided by government included $75m in grants and a $90m loans scheme targeted at the commercial sector.

LEIF and LPA have further called for the establishment of a business interruption fund to offset risks of cancellation or postponement over the next three years as the industry rebuilds.

Richardson tells IQ, “The most significant achievements of LEIF have been, firstly, the collaboration with our sporting colleagues with information sharing and support during a tumultuous period across the country and globally; and secondly, providing a united voice to governments with respect to advocacy, and raising the profile of the commercial entertainment industry, both in terms of its economic and social contributions to the broader economy.

“As we move forward, we hope to build on this, so our industry is recognised for the significant role we play as employers, providers of content to commercial and government-owned venues, and our critical economic alignment with other industry sectors such as tourism and hospitality.”

 


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Australia to host first arena concerts since March

TEG, Live Nation and the government of New South Wales (NSW) have announced plans for The Greatest Southern Nights, Australia’s first arena shows since the shutdown of the concert business in March.

Taking place as part of Great Summer Nights, the state-backed 1,000-show concert series running in NSW throughout this month, the Greatest Southern Nights shows will play to more than 12,000 fans at Qudos Bank Arena (21,000-cap.) over two nights in a seated, ‘Covid-safe’ setting.

Ocean Alley will headline the first gig, on Saturday 28 November, joined by Jack River, Ruby Fields and Jack Botts, with Bernard Fanning and Matt Corby, supported by Merci, Mercy, playing the second on Saturday 5 December. For each, co-promoters TEG Live and Live Nation will welcome more than 6,000 fans to the Sydney venue.

Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG and a key figure in the pan-industry Live Entertainment Industry Fund (LEIF), comments: “These shows are vital for our industry because they will show that we can stage big live concerts safely and that Australians cannot wait to get out and share great live entertainment experiences with their friends and family.

“We have seen the successful and safe return of large crowds to major live sport, and it is time for live music to make a return at scale at a world-class venue, Qudos Bank Arena, which we will operate in a reduced, Covid-safe capacity for these shows.”

Tickets for the Ocean Alley show cost A$91.60 (€56), while the Bernard Fanning-Matt Corby date is priced at $99.90 (€60). The shows go on sale at 10am local time Monday and Tuesday, respectively, via TEG’s Ticketek platform.

“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together”

“After eight long months of zero arena shows, these concerts will see great musicians bring thousands of fans back together,” comments Roger Field, president of Live Nation Asia Pacific, who also serves on the LEIF executive committee. “Not only will these two wonderful nights of entertainment deliver significant employment but they are sure to inject a vital economic boost to our industry and the economy.”

The shows are supported by New South Wales’s tourism agency, Destination NSW. The state’s minister for jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, says: “NSW has led Australia in reigniting the live music industry through Great Southern Nights, and now we are excited to announce these landmark concerts that will be the hottest tickets in the country.

“The NSW government is proud to be getting artists, roadies, venues, hospitality staff and tourism businesses back to work and we hope this heralds the safe return of major indoor arena events.”

Arena shows have already returned to neighbouring New Zealand, where Live Nation recently promoted a headline tour by local star Benee. At press time, Australia had just 12 new cases of coronavirus today (6 November), while NZ had one.

“I’m so happy to be part of the reopening of the live music scene in NSW,” adds Bernard Fanning. “It’s a great opportunity to get people safely together again, but just as importantly to give the music industry workers whose lives have been so upended by Covid a chance to get back to doing what they do best.”

 


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Australia’s NSW to allow 5,000-cap country fairs

The government in Australian state New South Wales (NSW) will allow country fairs to host up to 5,000 people from January 2021, the second-largest attendance permitted at outdoor events since social distancing restrictions were imposed.

The Bowral Show, scheduled for 9 January at the Bong Bong Picnic Racecourse, will be the first event to welcome an audience of that size since the NRL grand final in October, which accommodated 40,000 seated fans at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium (cap. 83,500).

Deputy premier John Barilaro, who is also the minister for regional NSW, announced the rollback of restrictions recently in a bid to boost the economies of regional areas hit by the pandemic.

Safety measures will include social distancing at venues, controlled access at entry points throughout the show to minimise crowding, a limit to the number of attendees depending on venue size and the one person per four-square-metre rule.

The 5,000-capacity allowance has not yet been extended to other types of events such as festivals.

“The industry has a framework to deliver Covid-safe events using the Live Entertainment Industry Forum Guidelines, the same guidelines created with other leading promoters and arenas that has seen the recent return of crowds to sporting events,” says Australian Festival Association spokeswoman Julia Robinson.

“There is a long way to go for a sector worth $2.7 billion that employs nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent workers”

“The easing of restrictions in regional areas is an important step for an industry that was switched off in March, however there is a long way to go for a sector worth AUS$2.7 billion that employs nearly 10,000 full-time-equivalent workers nationally.”

This week NSW and Sydney are enjoying a return to live with the month-long festival, Great Southern Nights.

The event, which is an NSW government initiative, will take place throughout November, Australia’s Music Month, in an attempt to “stimulate the revival of the live music and entertainment sectors and, in turn, the visitor economy in the recovery phase of Covid-19″.

The festival will host 1,000 Covid-secure gigs featuring artists including Jimmy Barnes, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Tones & I, AB Original, Vera Blue, Hoodoo Gurus Ruel, Lime Cordiale, Alex The Astronaut, Missy Higgins and Matt Corby.

Live music has also returned in part to regional Victoria, albeit under stringent restrictions.

Indoor venues remain closed but the state is permitting live music in outdoor spaces under several conditions; gig-goers must remain seated and are limited to tables of ten, which must be at least 1.5 metres apart from any other table. Band members are required to wear a mask, singers excluded, and must stand at least two metres from each other and five from the audience.

 


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Australia’s LEIF releases Covid-safe guidelines

The Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which represents Australia’s largest live entertainment and sport businesses, has released a new set of ‘Covid-safe’ guidelines for the safe restart of live events.

The new recommendations by LEIF – formed in June this year by Australia’s biggest concert and sports promoters, venue managers and industry associations – have been drawn up by industry experts from more over 50 organisations, in consultation with government and health agencies.

They include measures on cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing.

LEIF chair James Sutherland comments: “LEIF is committed to ensuring the passionate people of the industry have the safest, staged and most considered route back to full employment, which in turn, will deliver significant positive economic outcomes for the community through events, which are integral features of healthy and connected communities.

“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference”

“These guidelines have been developed by LEIF to provide guidance, support and a point of reference to live entertainment venues, event promoters and service providers to reactivate live events in a Covid-safe way.”

The guidelines, which can be found on the LEIF website, have been released in advance of the Event Summit, which takes place in Sydney on 14 October. At the conference, Sutherland and LEIF members Geoff Jones (CEO of TEG) and Roger Field (president of Live Nation Asia-Paicifc) will present a study assessing the economic contribution of the live entertainment industry in Australia, developed in cooperation with Ernst & Young.

The launch of the LEIF guidelines follows the release in August of a similar set of ‘Covid-safe’ measures developed by trade body Live Performance Australia.

At press time, some live events (particularly sports) had restarted in Australia, albeit with social distancing and with different restrictions by state.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Australian industry welcomes $250m rescue package

The Australian government has dedicated AU$250 million (€153.3m) to help rebuild the country’s entertainment and arts sector over the next year, as it commits to presenting a clear timetable for reopening.

The country’s creative industries joins those in Germany (€1 billion) and New Zealand ($175m/€100m) to receive significant funding to boost recovery.

The package includes $75m (€46m) for a competitive grants programme – with individual grants of up to $2m (€1.2m) – to provide capital for new festivals, concerts, tours and events, and $90m (€55.2m) in concessional show starter loans – backed with a 100% state guarantee – to assist businesses to fund new productions and events that stimulate job creation and economic activity.

A further $35m (€21.5m) will be used to provide direct support to Commonwealth-funded arts and culture organisations facing threats to financial viability, including those in theatre, dance, music and circus.

The final $50m (€30.7m) is dedicated to supporting film and television producers.

“We welcome the government’s support for both the live entertainment and live sport sectors as we push ahead with these plans”

The government has also committed to establishing a creative economy taskforce to implement a JobMaker plan for the creative economy, as well as working to give the entertainment industry greater certainty about the timetable for restarting business.

Although the funding is over $105m (€64.4m) short of the relief package previously drawn up by Live Performance Australia (LPA), industry organisations have widely welcomed the government’s support, with the LPA calling it a “significant outcome” for the industry.

The recently formed Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which comprises Australia’s leading promoters Live Nation, TEG, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment and AEG, as well as WME agency, major venues and operators, and a number of industry organisations, thanks the prime minister “for recognising the serious business of entertainment that employs hundreds of thousands of jobs and makes a significant contribution to the Australian way of life.”

LEIF chair James Sutherland adds the forum is working with health authorities to develop “nationally approved high-level principles for a safe return to live entertainment and sport at large venues”.

“Through this unprecedented collaboration across live entertainment and sport we are committed to delivering COVIDSafe live events and sport. We welcome the government’s support for both the live entertainment and live sport sectors as we push ahead with these plans.”

“I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events”

LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson says the measures “reflect our industry’s unique characteristics and the challenges it faces”, as well as recognising “the significant economic contribution that our commercial sector makes to Australia’s economic and cultural well-being.”

According to Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, the package is designed to support “a broad range of jobs from performers, artists and roadies, to front of house staff and many who work behind the scenes, while assisting related parts of the broader economy, such as tourism and hospitality.”

“Many in the sector will find a new way to operate while the current social distancing measures remain in place,” says Morrisson, “and while that won’t be easy I know there’s a strong desire among all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances and events.”

In step three of Australia’s recovery roadmap, which individuals states can choose to activate from the start of next month, seated and ticketed outdoor venues of up to 40,000 people can hold up to 25% capacity, with larger venues limited to 10,000 people.

Indoor venues will no longer have a capacity limit, but must ensure there is enough space for four square metres per person.

Night clubs and “high-risk outdoor events”, such as unseated music festivals, are to remain closed.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Australian biz unites for safe reopening strategy

The Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), a new initiative that aims to to ensure fans can return safely to live events when restrictions on mass gatherings are lifted, has been formed by Australia’s biggest live entertainment companies.

LEIF’s mission is to “support the COVIDSafe reactivation of events with live audiences across Australia” when restrictions are eased in July, according to the body. (COVIDSafe is Australia’s coronavirus contact-tracing app.) “LEIF will put in place a comprehensive, flexible, all-of-industry reopening and risk-management strategy that meets the needs of the public, governments, sporting bodies, venues, performers and industry, with safety at its core.”



LEIF comprises all major Australian live businesses, including promoters Live Nation, TEG, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment and AEG; agency WME; venues Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Olympic Parks and Adelaide Oval; venue operators ASM Global, Venues West and Venues Live; musical producer Michael Cassel Group; and associations Live Performance Australia, Venue Management Association and Australian Festivals Association.

Led by an executive committee headed by former Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland, the forum says will work in conjunction with governments, sporting bodies, venues and audiences to “build confidence in the industry’s preparedness to operate safely, flexibly and sustainably and explore how industry can be supported by governments during its gradual return”.

“I am proud that we stand united to work together”

LEIF will develop measures regarding cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing, with the objective of restarting an industry responsible for more than 175,000 Australian jobs. The objective is to safely restart an industry which supports over 175,000 Australian jobs and feeds other sectors hit hard by COVID-19 such as tourism, transport and hospitality.

“This pandemic has brought our industry to a complete standstill. The thousands of cancelled sporting events, concerts, festivals, theatre, family and comedy shows, and all the associated revenues related to them, can never be replaced,” comments Sutherland.

“Our industry was the first to close during Covid-19 and it will be one of the last to fully reopen. The cultural, creative and sports industries supports the livelihoods of around 175,000 Australians, many of whom are casual or part time. The industry also contributes an estimated $150 billion to the Australian economy. Our live events have a huge economic flow on effect: we support jobs in airlines and other transport companies, hotels, pubs, restaurants and retail establishments of all sizes all over Australia.

“We need a clear roadmap to get our industry back to work, while playing a bigger role in the post-Covid-19 economic recovery of our nation. We are committed to working with all states and territories, especially with their chief medical and health officers. We will develop COVIDSafe best practices and a world-leading response to revive our industry, get people back to work and bring fans back together throughout Australia through the unbeatable power of live events.”

“We must put aside our natural competitive instincts so we can all bring large-scale live events back to the Australian people”

“Our industry has to work together at this challenging time. We must put aside our natural competitive instincts so we can all bring large-scale live events back to the Australian people safely,” says Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG. “We want to work closely with the federal, state and territory governments to create solutions that get our industry up and running again and help get the many thousands of people who support our industry back to work. We want to bring fans back and jobs back, safely.”

Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia – who also serves on the executive committee alongside Sutherland and Jones – adds: “Live events and mass gatherings are not solely for recreational purposes – they play a crucial part in the fabric of Australian life.

“Just as sport plays an important role in promoting healthy behaviours, so too do music and the performing arts. The positive impact culture brings to society is not only seen both psychologically and in social wellbeing, but in the fact that the live events industry contributes hundreds of thousands of jobs, which flows on and effects the whole economy.

“I am proud that we stand united to work together to make the return to events a reality and for the people of Australia to enjoy the power of live once again.”

 


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