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Australia’s live event industry lost $1.4bn in 2020

Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020, a new report has found.

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.

The ticketing data shows 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.

Live Performance Australia’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, says: “EY’s analysis of 2019 and 2020 data clearly shows the massive hit the live entertainment industry took in 2020.

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused significant disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring. These are stark numbers.”

“Ongoing restrictions, lockdowns and border closures caused disruption to an industry heavily reliant on national touring”

The report breaks down live entertainment into categories: contemporary music, music theatre, festivals (contemporary music), theatre, festivals (multi-category), circus and physical theatre, comedy, classical music, opera, children’s/family, ballet and dance, and special events.

Contemporary Music, a category that includes rock, pop and hip-hop concerts, remained the biggest category, accounting for over 50% total revenue of live performance at $309m and 37% of attendances (nearly 3 million).

However, the sector experienced an overall decline of 63% in revenue and 65% in attendance between 2019 and 2020.

Contemporary music festivals drew nearly 437,500 people in 2020, generating over $54.2m from ticket sales.

However, the category suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019, due to bans on mass gatherings, border closures and density limits introduced as part of Covid-19.

Major festivals in this category in 2020 were Falls Downtown, WOMADelaide and St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

Contemporary music festivals suffered a staggering 70% loss in both attendance and revenue compared to 2019

According to Richardson, Australia’s live entertainment business has a long road to recovery: “The forecast for the next 12 months indicates industry viability is seriously threatened with reactivation and recovery now delayed. The lag time required to plan and deliver events sees companies trying to retain staff to work on pipeline events through Q4 and well into the middle of next year.”

Richardson reiterated calls for an insurance scheme for the business, echoing sentiments previously shared by not only LPA but other industry bodies.

“We expect the impacts of Covid-19 in 2021 maybe even greater given our two major markets [NSW, VIC] have been closed for extended periods,” she said, “and these impacts have seen business confidence collapse and the industry needs an insurance scheme to underwrite investment risk in 2022/23.

“The live music and entertainment industry also urgently requires a targeted, Business Reactivation package to ensure we retain capacity to operate when border, venue capacity and operational restrictions are eased. While much of the economy will be returning to pre-Covid activity, the live music and entertainment industry will be constrained by venue capacity and border restrictions for some months.”

Read the LPA’s full report here.


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German alliance demands December 1 ‘Freedom Day’

German event companies have called for all remaining Covid restrictions to be lifted by 1 December at the latest.

The Event Management Forum (EMF) alliance, which consists of five major organisations including live music associations BDKV and LiveKomm, said that while large-scale events can now take place again in numerous federal states, the various regulations in others meant tours “can only still be planned with considerable obstacles”.

The federal minister of health, Jens Spahn, has said he does not expect the pandemic to end in Germany until spring 2022, therefore it was currently considered “too early to return to normal”. However, citing the country’s high vaccination rate and “moderate” hospital occupancy, the EMF has claimed it is now time for the country to learn to live with the virus.

“Many European countries have long since come to terms with this and lifted all restrictions,” it said. “In Germany, the occupancy of the hospital wards is moderate, the incidence figures are largely constant, the vaccination rate is increasing daily. The persistence of restrictions therefore appears increasingly inappropriate.

The industry is demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December

The industry is demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December.

“The event industry has always supported meaningful measures by the federal and state governments, insofar as these were proportionate. Maintaining the restrictions on event operations is not.”

Warning that further inaction would lead event specialists to continue to defect to other industries, the EMF said the sector was the “last branch of the economy that is still in a corona coma”.

“The industry is… demanding that all restrictions on holding public events be lifted by 1 December, thus making it possible for cultural and other events to take place again as early as the Christmas season,” it concluded.

Back in January, the EMF presented a proposal titled ‘Manifest Restart’, which detailed a uniform approach to the gradual and safe reopening of events in Germany.

“This would have ensured the highest possible level of security for all event visitors as early as the spring,” it said.


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How Taiwan became a global outlier for live, post pandemic

Taiwan has become the envy of the global live music industry after enjoying many months of full-capacity festivals, concerts and events.

The east Asian country, which has a population of more than 23 million, has recorded a mere 603 cases and only seven deaths during the pandemic, despite being close to mainland China where the virus began.

The country recently celebrated a record 200 consecutive days without any domestically transmitted cases of Covid-19, making it even more successful than New Zealand (which has a far smaller population) and Vietnam – both of which have been lauded for their efforts since March.

Taiwan’s success with controlling the virus has been tied to a number of factors, including: an early response which brought in strict control measures such as two weeks of quarantine for anyone flying into the island; a generous amount of resources being poured into testing and tracing and checks on travellers arriving from Wuhan as early as December last year.

On top of that, the island’s previous exposure to the Sars epidemic meant that preparations were extensive and up to date.

As a result, the nation has managed to maintain a positive rate of economic growth, and unemployment rate dropped to 3.83% in September, the lowest seen in six months.

Thanks to these precautions and achievements, the country saw a return to live as early as June when the Taiwanese government lifted all limits on the number of people allowed to attend public gatherings, including cultural events, and removed the need for social distancing at concert halls and stadiums.

Taiwain has recorded a mere 603 cases and only seven deaths during the pandemic

Following that, Taiwanese artist Eric Chou delivered Asia’s first post-Covid arena shows to a sold-out, full-capacity Taipei Arena (cap. 15,350) on 8 and 9 August.

Fans were still required to wear masks, undergo temperature checks upon entry, and provide identification that would facilitate contact tracing should the need arise. Pink medical masks and square alcohol wipes were provided.

Since then, however, measures are not being as strictly enforced. Last Saturday (14 November), some 10,000 – mostly maskless – patrons crammed together at Dajie Riverside Park in Taipei for Ultra festival, a worldwide electronic music festival franchise.

A carefree audience enjoyed performances from domestic and international artists (who would have quarantined for 14 days upon entering the country) including Kayzo, Vini Vici, Slander and Alesso.

Artists have been among those praising the nation for its efforts in tackling coronavirus. Last Tuesday (10 November), world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave thanks to the audience and praised the people of Taiwan for their “truly amazing” feat during his concert.

His performance at Taipei Music Center to more than 4,000 fans was his first in front of a live audience since March.

One of the nation’s biggest triumph in terms of live events, however, came last month as tens of thousands celebrated the LGBTQ+ community in Taipei.

On the 31 October, the capital hosted the biggest in-person pride event of 2020 since the pandemic began, drawing an estimated 130,000 people.


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