Live Performance Australia’s message for new PM
Trade body Live Performance Australia (LPA) has called on newly elected prime minister Anthony Albanese to deliver targeted support to the sector as it navigates a fresh set of challenges in the wake of of the Covid storm.
Albanese’s Labor party defeated Scott Morrison’s conservative coalition in the Australian election on 21 May and went on to secure a majority in parliament this week.
Congratulating the PM and his team on their victory, LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson says the live arts and entertainment industry is looking forward to forming a productive partnership with the government.
“Our industry is not looking for handouts”
“LPA stands ready to work with a newly formed Labor government to advance the economic, cultural and social interests of our nation,” says Richardson. “The first priority must be to deliver a revitalised cultural policy this year, with clear strategic priorities and investment to rebuild the industry. We are ready to hit the ground running.
“Our industry is not looking for handouts. We strongly believe that public investment in arts and entertainment delivers significant economic and cultural value. Australia needs a vibrant arts and entertainment industry to contribute to our economic recovery and drive social and cultural wellbeing – at a time when it’s never been needed more.”
Covid-19 stripped the domestic live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, according to a study published last year by the LPA’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report. Australia imposed some of the world’s strictest travel bans after shutting itself off in March 2020.
And despite the country reopening its international border in February for the first time in nearly two years, Richardson warns the business is not out of the woods yet.
“We’ve lost billions in revenue plus thousands of people across the industry and now face a severe skill and labour shortage”
“Our industry faces a new set of challenges as we manage the ongoing challenges of transitioning to living with Covid,” she says. “Before Covid, our industry was a vast ecosystem of small, medium and large businesses, sole operators and tens of thousands of performers, artists, creatives and technical crew. We’ve lost billions in revenue plus thousands of people across the industry and now face a severe skill and labour shortage, the worst ever experienced by the industry in living memory.
“Targeted support to rebuild skills, and to underwrite and attract investment will enable us to create jobs, create new work, get more shows on stage, our touring networks re-established, and broaden our audiences both here and internationally. This will support not just our artists and industry, but all the associated upstream and downstream businesses which depend upon live events as stimulus.
“We look forward to working with a new, energised government that values who we are and what we contribute, in the months and years ahead.”
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APRA AMCOS to pay royalties for cancelled concerts
Australian collection society APRA AMCOS has announced it will pay members AUS$1.5 million (€940,000) in live performance royalties for concerts that were cancelled due to the latest Covid wave.
The initiative will compensate music creators who lost out on royalties from performances scheduled to take place in Australia and New Zealand from 1 October 2021 to 28 February 2022. It follows a similar initiative in 2020 when APRA AMCOS brought forward performance report payments from November to May.
“Just as it felt like things were starting to open up and live music was ready to kick off a successful summer season, the latest Covid-19 wave once again cancelled live events causing substantial financial loss and emotional strain to our members and the broader industry,” says APRA chair Jenny Morris. “The APRA board has approved this initiative so that swift action can be taken to support our members and pay them for the royalties they would have made from the live performances of their songs.
“When a gig is cancelled, many are affected financially, professionally and personally. But there is an intangible cost as well when our artists are unable to bring communities together, connect with their fans and when they miss out on the career development that literally can only happen on stage.”
The organisation is continuing its call on government to provide wider support to a range of businesses.
“APRA AMCOS is putting royalties into the pockets of our members for the performances they intended to play,” adds APRA AMCOS chief executive Dean Ormston. “They planned, prepared and practiced and through no fault of their own, once again they lost work and income.”
“The Omicron variant has significantly derailed the industry’s reactivation business activities and there is still an unknown around when we can put the pandemic behind us”
Members can submit claims for cancelled performances until 28 February, with payments to be distributed in March. The news provides a further boost for the live sector, days after an additional $80m performing arts package was announced by the New South Wales government.
“The Omicron variant has significantly derailed the industry’s reactivation business activities and there is still an unknown around when we can put the pandemic behind us,” said Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson. “This package will enable companies to keep shows on stage and people in work and provide much-needed business confidence to continue investing.
“The arts and entertainment industry is working hard to rebuild after two years of continued disruption caused by Covid-19. The additional $80 million for performing arts companies will support them through this very challenging time and the $5 million provided to Support Act will be gratefully received by many of our struggling artists, performers and crews, who have again been dealt a major blow just when the industry was getting back on its feet.
“We congratulate the New South Wales government on taking the lead, after consultation with industry, on measures to support the arts and entertainment industry through a very tough transition phase. We call on other state and territory governments to step up and provide similar support to rebuild industry and consumer confidence which has been shattered.
“We continue to call on the Commonwealth government to take action with targeted initiatives, the most urgent being a national insurance scheme and a skills and training package.”
Adding that the live entertainment industry contributed $36.5 billion to Australia’s economy in 2019, Richardson added: “The pandemic is not over and we still need to get through winter which may bring new challenges. The impacts of Omicron are being felt across the country. Now more than ever government support is needed to ensure the live entertainment industry can continue to play its part in the nation’s economic, social and cultural recovery.”
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Oz live alliance ramps up appeal for Covid support
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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Australia facing live music shortage over summer
Trade body Live Performance Australia says the country’s cautious reopening has left it facing a shortage of touring artists over the summer months.
The organisation’s CEO Evelyn Richardson says the December to February summer period is shaping up to be a quiet one, with music events not expected to return “in a major way” until well into next year.
“We’ve missed the opportunity to bring in a lot of our international touring acts for this summer, and with our domestic artists, many of those are touring internationally so we haven’t got those people touring either,” Richardson told ABC. “We probably won’t see live music come back in a major way until later 2022.”
Major international artists including Kings of Leon, Rod Stewart and Kiss are due to tour the region from March next year, while acts such as Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa are expected in the second half of 2022.
A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS $1.4 billion in revenue during 2020
New South Wales festival staple Splendour in the Grass is set for North Byron Parklands from 22-24 July, headlined by Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator.
A recent report revealed that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020.
Following record years in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic had a “devastating impact” on the live sector, according to Live Performance Australia’s Ticket Attendance and Revenue Report. Ticketing data showed close to 70% of revenue and attendance was obliterated after the industry was shut down in March last year.
In 2020, the number of tickets issued to live performance events fell by 68% to under eight million, ticket sales revenue fell by 69% to $600m, and the average ticket price fell from $92.89 to $87.14.
Australian live industry calls for UK-style insurance
A coalition of Australian live music associations has called on the government to adopt an insurance scheme for live music similar to the £750m government-backed programme announced by the UK last week.
In a joint statement, Live Performance Australia (LPA), Live Entertainment Industry Forum, the Australian Festival Association (AFA) and more warned that it will be a “very sad and quiet” summer without a reinsurance scheme to protect the industry from disruptions and cancellations.
The Australian live music and entertainment sector has long campaigned for a government-backed insurance scheme, especially after the last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest – one of Australia’s biggest and best-known festivals.
However, only the film industry so far has received government reinsurance, through the federal government’s $50m Temporary Interruption Fund, announced in June 2020.
Nations including the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia have announced a financial buffer against future possible lockdowns for the live music and entertainment sectors.
“We’re not looking for a handout, promoters are willing to purchase an insurance product”
LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, says: “The UK example shows there is a solution that can be developed in conjunction with industry on commercial terms. We’re not looking for a handout, promoters are willing to purchase an insurance product. A scheme underwritten by government just makes it viable for insurers to put policies in the market.”
AFA GM, Julia Robinson, says: “An insurance scheme will ensure that the $200m in Rise funding together with state and territory initiatives will deliver the maximum benefit for the country. Government don’t want to see these investments go to waste, and neither does the industry.”
In a comment for IQ magazine, Robinson explained warned that a lack of government-backed insurance could also impact business confidence.
Australia’s call for insurance comes after findings from the second I Lost My Gig survey – an initiative of the AFA and the Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN) – revealed that at least 23,000 gigs and events were cancelled during July due to restrictions.
Of the $64m in lost revenue, the results showed that 99% of respondents had no income protection or event cancellation insurance.
Bluesfest forced to cancel at the eleventh hour
Byron Bay Bluesfest 2021 has been cancelled by a public health order, a mere 24 hours before doors were due to open to the public.
The New South Wales (NSW) government announced on Wednesday (30 March) that Bluesfest would not be permitted to go ahead on its scheduled dates, Thursday 31 March to Monday 5 April, due to a new Covid case in Byron Bay.
Bluesfest confirmed the cancellation in a statement published late afternoon on 31 March. “We are heartbroken that Covid-19 has spread into our local community,” it read. “We are getting the message out as quickly as possible so that those traveling to the event can make alternate arrangements.”
Read the full Bluesfest statement via our website: www.bluesfest.com.au/bluesfest-is-cancelled-for-two-years-in-a-row
In a statement, Minister Hazzard said: “While the cancellation of Bluesfest is disappointing for music lovers and the local community, I hope that ticket holders would support Bluesfest and hold on to their tickets as I understand Bluesfest will be working on a new date as soon as possible.”
Under an NSW Health-approved Covid-19 safety plan, Bluesfest 2021 was set to operate at approximately 50% of normal capacity and production, hosting around 16,500 people on each of its five days, with an all-Australian line-up.
It’s just been announced that @BluesfestByron has been cancelled. While this is such huge blow for Aussie music, the health and well-being of this country has to come first. Thanks to the team at Bluesfest for doing the best they could in preparation. pic.twitter.com/4fpJBzqXAh
— Jimmy Barnes (@JimmyBarnes) March 31, 2021
The cancellation marks the second time the festival has been called off due to the coronavirus.
The last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest has prompted fresh calls for a government insurance scheme that would help live events redeem their costs in the event of an eleventh-hour cancellation.
“Govt has a Covid insurance system for the film industry. Music needs one too. Urgently”
Bluesfest’s Peter Noble had called for such a fund at the beginning of the year. A business interruption fund, he wrote on Facebook, would “incentivise event presenters to put on events and be protected in not going to the wall, should an out break of Covid shut down their businesses at short notice and protect artists, crew and suppliers [to] get paid should that occur”.
“The federal government did it more than six months ago for the film industry to get them back to making movies. Why are we still waiting?” he wrote.
Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke has also called for a “Covid insurance system” for live music. “The music industry is full of viable profitable businesses unable to function because of public health,” he wrote on Twitter. “Govt has a Covid insurance system for the film industry. Music needs one too. Urgently.”
Australia releases guidelines for return to live
Live Performance Australia (LPA), the trade association for the country’s live performance industry, has released a comprehensive set of Covid-safe guidelines to help facilitate Australia’s return to live.
The guidelines cover auditions, rehearsals and performances, as well as touring of live performances. The Performing Arts Connections (PAC) Australia guidelines for Covid-safe theatres, originally issued in June, have also been revised and updated.
Meanwhile, tailored guidelines for events of scale, such as large concerts and music festivals, are being developed through the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF).
“People in our industry are passionate about getting back to work and engaging and entertaining live audiences, but safety must be our top priority to ensure the well-being of our workers and audiences,” says LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.
“As public health restrictions are eased in different states and territories, these guidelines will help the industry reopen, restart and rebuild following the devastating impact of Covid-19.”
The guidelines have been developed with industry input, reviewed by medical experts, revised based on that advice and endorsed by an epidemiologist. LPA also consulted with trade union Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) on the three guideline documents.
“People in our industry are passionate about getting back to work but safety must be our top priority”
Richardson says the live performance industry is also committed to working closely with state and territory governments on the implementation of the guidelines and the return to live.
“In addition to the emergency funding assistance that governments have provided to help our industry through this crisis, enabling our companies to reactivate and our performers to get back on stage in front of audiences is the best form of support they need. These guidelines provide the pathway for reopening venues and bringing our live performance industry back to life in the months ahead,” Richardson says.
Western Australia is now in its fourth stage of lockdown easing, permitting all events except large scale, multi-stage music festivals. Unseated performances are allowed to take place at music venues and concert halls, with gathering limits only determined by the state’s two-square-metre-per-person rule. For the state’s biggest venues, however, a 50% capacity rule currently applies.
The state began its return to live with the first “post-restrictions” stadium concert, which took place in mid-July, with local musicians Crooked Colours, ShockOne, Slumberjack and Tina Says performing to over 2,000 fans as part of the WA Unlocked event at the HBF Stadium in Perth.
Phase 5, which could see the removal of WA’s two-square-metre rule and the 50 per cent capacity for major venues, was due to be implemented on 15 August but has now been delayed until at least 29 August.
Elsewhere in Australia, Melbourne’s gradual reopening of nightlife is still on hold as the city battles a deadly second wave of coronavirus. Australia’s second-biggest city was put back into lockdown on 9 July after a localised outbreak of Covid-19.
The state has recently mandated wearing masks and tightened a stay-at-home order to reduce transmissions.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.
Australian industry unites as gov boosts stimulus package
An Australian music industry taskforce, consisting of Chugg Entertainment, Frontier Touring, Live Nation, Live Performance Australia (LPA) and TEG, among others, has established Sound Of Silence, an initiative dedicated to bringing relief to the Australian live business.
The collective has implemented a range of targeted activity, encouraging fans to donate to music charity Support Act via the SOS website. On the platform, fans can also buy SOS t-shirts with all proceeds going to Support Act, or access an online superstore for artist merchandise.
The taskforce encourages fans to consider donating refunds for cancelled shows to venues or Support Act, and to keep tickets for rescheduled shows, as well as showing support by buying music through online platforms such as Bandcamp.
Workers affected by event cancellations and postponements are directed to the I Lost My Gig platform, which is logging the income loss from cancellations and the number of people and events affected.
At the time of writing, income loss stood at AU$300m (£150.5m), with 274,000 gigs and almost 600,000 Australian workers affected.
The Sound Of Silence initiative comes as many in the industry deem Australian government measures to support the business through the virus insufficient.
“Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die”
Over the weekend, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed a second economic relief package worth $66 billion (£33.2bn), on top of a previous $17.6bn (£8.8bn) package and more than $100bn (£49.8bn) in emergency banking measures.
The new package includes six-month income support for those who have lost their jobs and for self-employed workers, casual workers and contractors who meet the income test; loan guarantees for small- and medium-sized businesses of up to $250,000 (£124,600); and wage subsidies of up to $100,000 (£49,800) for small- and medium-sized businesses.
“The small business package measures announced today, while welcome, will not make a material difference to 80% of our companies,” reads a statement issued by LPA. “These are businesses whose entire revenue has fallen off a cliff. Without immediate support, they won’t survive.
“Without a targeted, immediate and substantial support package, there will be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die.”
LPA calls for an additional $650m (£325m) emergency music industry package, warning that without targeted support measures, the virus “will be the death knell for Australia’s world class live performance industry”.
Photo: Commonwealth of Australia 2016 (CC BY 4.0) (cropped)
Australian PM advises ban on events over 500-cap.
Updated 18/3/20: Australian prime minister Scott Morrison announces a ban on “non-essential” indoor gatherings of more than 100 people, including “social activities and entertainment”, effective immediately.
The Australian prime minister Scott Morrison has advised against all “non-essential” mass gatherings of over 500 people, effective from Monday (16 March).
The announcement follows yesterday’s statement from organisers of Australian festival Byron Bay Bluesfest that the event was to go ahead as planned.
A statement released by the Bluesfest team reads: “We are now awaiting the official requirement from Federal and State authorities on Monday and will update you at that time.” Updated (16 March): Bluesfest executive chairman Peter Noble today issued a statement cancelling the festival, saying “it is obvious we will not be on this Easter. We are heartbroken as we believe we were presenting one of the best ever bills of talent for you.”
Leading Australian promoters Frontier Touring an Chugg Entertainment today issued a statement that “a number of concerts will no longer be able to proceed as scheduled”, including shows by Jimmy Eat World, Marc Rebillet, Kip Moore, Miranda Lambert and Seaforth.
“Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment are presently working with all artist teams to determine if dates can be rescheduled to late 2020 or early 2021,” reads the statement.
“For ticketholders, tickets will remain valid for rescheduled dates and they will be notified directly as soon as details of new dates are confirmed. Where concerts cannot be rescheduled a full refund will be available for all tickets purchased through official ticketing agencies.”
The promoters note that concerts by New Order, Gengahr and Julia Jacklin will proceed as scheduled over the weekend.
“Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment are presently working with all artist teams to determine if dates can be rescheduled to late 2020 or early 2021”
In Melbourne, Robbie Williams’ upcoming concert as part of TEG Dainty, Apollo World Touring and Westbrook Inc.’s World Tour series has also been called off, along with the Australian Grand Prix. The concert was to take place at the Lakeside Stadium within the Grand Prix racetrack on Saturday.
“We appreciate that this is very disappointing news for the fans due to attend the show and all ticket holders will receive a full refund and will be contacted by Ticketek shortly,” reads a statement from World Tour Melbourne and TEG Dainty.
The news follows the cancellation of Miley Cyrus’ World Tour Bushfire Relief show at the same venue earlier this week.
The Australian editions of Download Festival, set to take place in Sydney and Melbourne on 20 and 21 March, have also been cancelled.
Headliners My Chemical Romance pulled out of headline appearances at the festivals, as well as all other performances in Australia and New Zealand today, “given the current global situation”. The band have also cancelled upcoming tour dates in Japan.
“Given that this announcement has come barely eight days prior to Download Australia we will not be able to secure an alternative headliner as there is insufficient time to secure visas and arrange the other relevant logistics that are required prior to the festival,” reads a statement from organisers.
“As we are unable to deliver a complete line-up, we have very reluctantly made the decision to cancel Download Australia 2020″
“As we are unable to deliver a complete line-up to meet the standard that Download fans both expect and deserve, we have very reluctantly made the decision to cancel Download Australia 2020.”
The team says it is working with My Chemical Romance and fellow headliners Deftones “to schedule separate headline shows in Australia in 2020”, as well as with other Download acts to arrange “headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne next week”.
All ticketholders will receive a full refund via Moshtix.
In the wake of event cancellations, the Australian live performance industry has called on the government to supply a stimulus plan to support the business in the event of significant loss of trade.
“We believe it’s possible to design measures that are targeted, scalable and temporary in terms of their budgetary impact, and which could be lifted once the current public health crisis is resolved,” comments Live Performance Australia chief executive, Evelyn Richardson.
Read insurance brokers advice on navigating coronavirus-related event cancellations here.
NSW music festival regulations rejected
The New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council has rejected regulations put forward by the NSW Government that imposed stricter licensing laws on music festivals.
The rejection means that festivals formerly placed in the government’s ‘higher risk’ category, and were most affected by the regulations, can revert back to their previous licensing laws.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian implemented the regulations, which placed more responsibility on festival organisers to ensure the safety of patrons and incurred many additional licensing and security costs, following a string of drug-related deaths at music festivals in the region.
The regulations were criticised by industry bodies including the Australian Music Festivals Association, Live Performance Australia, Apra Amcos and Music NSW, as well as leading industry figures such as Byron Bluesfest founder Peter Noble and Live Nation Australia chairman Michael Coppel.
“The government can now sit down with the industry for some constructive consultation on ways to improve patron safety at music festivals, including steps to reduce drug-related harm,” comments Evelyn Richardson, chief executive of Live Performance Australia.
“From the outset, we have repeatedly expressed our strong desire to work collaboratively with government on our shared commitment to safer festivals.
“Genuine collaboration with industry representatives who have decades of experience in running safe and successful festivals is the best way to promote the safety of festival patrons, while also ensuring NSW continues to enjoy the economic and cultural benefits from a dynamic and diverse music festival industry.”
“The government can now sit down with the industry for some constructive consultation on ways to improve patron safety at music festivals”
The government now has two months to propose a new set of regulations. Representatives from the Australian Labor party stated that they would support a regime that did not publish an ‘extreme risk’ list of festivals, that followed existing NSW Health guidelines for festival organisers and that ensured all medical providers at festivals are registered.
Politicians also urged the ‘immediate establishment’ of a regulatory roundtable, at which live music industry associations could consult with local councils.
“The opposition does not move to disallow these regulations lightly, but we simply believe that these regulations do not do the job as required to regulate music festivals and to keep kids safe across NSW,” stated shadow minister for roads, music and the night-time economy John Graham, speaking at the debate.
The minister also commented that no politicians met with the festivals at the time of implementing the regulations and that “no consultative body existed, or exists today”, adding that there is “no other industry that government would work with in that way.”
According to Labor minister Penny Sharpe, the “impact on venues and festivals” was not “accounted for” in the regulations. The minster urged the government to learn from its mistakes, referencing the recently scrapped Sydney lock-out laws.
As well as Byron Bay Bluesfest, other NSW festivals include Defqon.1, Days Like This, Transmission, Electric Gardens and Rolling Loud.