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Organisers of cancelled Oz fest lament $5m loss

Organisers of Australia’s HomeBrewed festival say the event’s cancellation has resulted in a negative economic impact of AUS$5 million (€3.2m).

Promoted by the team behind the city’s established Beer & BBQ Festival (BBF), artists due to perform at the festival included Bad//Dreems, Teenage Joans, Luke Million, Peter Combe and Horror My Friend.

HomeBrewed, which attracted 10,000 punters to its inaugural edition last year, was set for Adelaide Showground from 21-23 January, but has now been axed due to Covid restrictions – including rules banning “vertical consumption” (drinking while standing) dancing – in South Australia will remain in place until at least 27 January.

“The BBF team have been working hard on this event for several months and have been excited to present a Covid-safe festival by following the guidelines that were set to come into place on 28 December in line with the government of South Australia’s 90% vaccinated re-opening plan,” says event director Gareth Lewis in a social media post.

“This plan has obviously been quashed and instead has been replaced with heavy restrictions for South Australian events indefinitely, at least until 27 January, which includes a ban on ‘vertical consumption’ and dancing, amongst other things – even at fully-vaccinated events.”

The constantly changing goalposts and inconsistency of any real financial support, coupled with total lack of empathy or respect, has led to the destruction of businesses and livelihoods

Lewis notes that South Australia is the only state or territory in Australia whose restrictions would not allow the event to safely proceed.

“We simply can’t run HomeBrewed in a seated format, and a postponement into a time where we would be competing with the beasts that are Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide is simply not viable,” he adds.

Breaking down the losses, organisers told The Music that local businesses have missed out on $1,6m in revenue streams and put the overall economic impact lost at upwards of $5m.

“Our industry desperately wants to get back to work in a safe format but the constantly changing goalposts and inconsistency of any real financial support coupled with total lack of empathy or respect has led to the destruction of businesses and livelihoods, the degradation of mental health to the point of costing lives and will now take years if not decades to recover,” adds Lewis.

“We call on the government to engage with the events and hospitality industries, end the state of emergency, develop a proper events insurance scheme as other states have, give us a clear roadmap and stick to it so we can plan for the future.”


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$3m funding boost for South Australian live sector

South Australia’s live music scene has received a boost courtesy of a AUS$3 million (€1.9m) government support package.

Up to $300,000 will be available for venues and promoters, via the Live Music Support Package, along with up to $50,000 for touring artists and their local crews, if they can demonstrate a decline in income compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Premier Steve Marshall made the announcement as part of a $7m commitment to the arts, reports The Music Network.

“[They] have been some of the hardest hit industries by the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated restrictions that were necessary to ensure South Australians stayed safe,” he says.

“As we get closer to the reopening of our borders to interstate and international travellers, it is imperative that our arts and cultural organisations, live music venues, artists and promoters are in a position to resume operating as soon as the restrictions lift.

“The Marshall government is committed to the arts and music sector and creating and supporting as many jobs in the industry as possible – and this package shows our support.”

We are all looking forward to seeing the industry flourish again

Minister for innovation and skills David Pisoni adds: “South Australian businesses in the music and performing arts sector directly contributed more than $183 million to the local economy in 2018-19 prior to Covid-19 and we are all looking forward to seeing the industry flourish again.”

It was not all good news for the sector, however, which has been lobbying to return to full-strength in time for the December-February summer season. Music venues were left out of the state’s latest roadmap out of Covid restrictions as they were still considered “high risk”, with “density limits, mask use and bans on dancing and standing up while drinking” set to continue until the state reaches 90% vaccination.

According to the government’s vaccine rollout update, 62.5% of the country’s population are now fully vaccinated. Last month, Australia’s live industry came together to launch a pro-vaccination campaign under the banner #Vaxthenation.

Meanwhile, a recent study found that Covid-19 stripped Australia’s live entertainment industry of AUS$1.4 billion in revenue during 2020.


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Australian states take differing stance on live’s return

Live music may return in varying degrees across Australia this week, as the country’s six states advance with differing reopening plans.

In Western Australia, home to the city of Perth, indoor and outdoor gatherings of up to 100 people will be permitted from Saturday (6 June), as the state embarks on phase three of its reopening plan, which makes specific mention to the reopening of concert venues.

Large venues “with multiple, divided spaces” may host up to 300 people, provided no more than 100 gather in each space and there is two square metres per person.

Although “excited” by the easing of restrictions, Mike Harris, CEO of local music body West Australian Music, calls on the state government to rescind the requirement for seating at live music venues, which “does not reflect or represent the places where most music is played, making compliance with this restriction logistically and financially challenging for many”.

South Australia, which includes the city of Adelaide, this week began allowing a maximum of 80 people to gather at a venue, with any separate room or area containing a maximum of 20 people, subject to a one-person-per-four-square-metres rule.

Under the state government’s “future steps for consideration” is the allowing of larger gatherings and reopening of stadiums and larger entertainment venues.

Live music may return in varying degrees across Australia this week, as the country’s six states advance with differing reopening plans

The government in New South Wales, which has been criticised for its lack of support for the cultural sector and information around its reopening, recently dedicated $50m (€30.7m) to arts and cultural organisations, with expected beneficiaires including the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Opera Australia, Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Sydney Theatre Company.

Pubs, clubs, small bars and restaurants in NSW were permitted to open for up to 50 customers this week, although all other indoor entertainment venues are to remain closed for now.

This has not stopped music returning to the state’s biggest city, Sydney, where the Bondi Beach Public Bar is relaunching its Friday and Saturday night DJ sets this weekend.

In the neighbouring state of Victoria, where AU$4m (€2.4m) was recently earmarked for the live music sector as part of a $150m (€88.2m) experience economy aid package, concert venues, theatres, arenas, auditoriums and stadiums are to open with up to 50 seated patrons from 21 June.

Queensland, home to Brisbane, is this week allowing up to 20 people in concert venues, theatres, arenas and stadiums, with this number set to increase to 100 from 10 July.

Australia’s island state of Tasmania is also reintroducing gatherings of up to 20 people in theatres and concert venues this week. From 13 July, 50 people will be allowed at indoor venus and up to 100 at outdoor shows. The state will also “consider” the reopening of night clubs from this date.


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