Australian Live Sector In Turmoil As 500-capacity Crowds Banned, Five Festivals Canceled

Download Australia
– Download Australia

The Australian festival and tour sector was in chaos March 13 after the Download, CMC Rocks, Under The Southern Stars, The Drop and Anthem festivals canceled within hours citing COVID-19, and Frontier Touring and Chugg Entertainment pulled its tours.

The new One World global concert initiative was forced to pill its first show, in Melbourne March 14 headlined by Robbie Williams, when its associated main event, the Australian Formula One Grand Prix was canned.
Adding to the confusion was a late afternoon announcement by the government preventing all “non-essential” sporting, business and music events with over 500 attendees from March 16,
It was not sure if this directive was “advice” or “ban.” CMC Rocks decided it was the latter, as did the Northern Beaches Council when it closed down the arch 14 The Drop. 
Vivid Sydney (May 22—June 13) planned to put its tickets on sale March 16 but adopted a wait-and-see approach. The event set a new record in 2019 for attendance and tourists, drawing 2.4 million and a boost to the New South Wales economy of A$143 million ($.90.1 million)
Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson called on the government for “urgent clarification” on its status, its timeframe and details of implementation.  
“The government needs to provide a clear directive as other jurisdictions have done so industry and the public are very clear about what this means,” she said. “The industry needs to be able to plan and communicate to its audience, artists and staff with confidence in this very difficult time.”
Today hard rock and heavy metal festival Download went dark after headliner My Chemical Romance pulled out of Australia and New Zealand days after aborting its Japan visit. 

CMC Rocks Queensland
– CMC Rocks Queensland
It was to stage March 20 at Melbourne’s Showgrounds and March 21 at Sydney’s The Domain. Last year the shows drew 20,000 each.
A statement pointed out, “Given that this announcement has come barely 8 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 required prior to the festival.”
Chugg Entertainment and Potts Entertainment’s country music CMC Rocks in Queensland, is rescheduling to October. Held March 19-23 with headliners Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore and Morgan Evans, it was to pull 23,000 each day.
Promoter Andrew McManus pushed back Under The Southern Stars to February and March 2021. It featured LIVE, Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and Rose Tattoo, with 12 shows April 3-19.
Anthems in Canberra (March 28) was this year under new owners Unbreakable Touring and a new venue at Commonwealth with Icehouse, The Temper Trap and Rogue Traders.
Hobart’s Dark Mofo earlier rescheduled to 2021 as a pre-preemptive measure. A later cancellation could have “run into the millions” and possibly mean the end of the festival, according to creative director Leigh Carmichael.  In June 2019, its seventh year, it set a new box office draw of $4 million ($2.52 million) and a 25% boost in attendance to 100,000.
Two major attractions over the April 9-13 Easter break – Bluesfest Byron Bay which draws 100,000 and National Folk Festival In Canberra with an attendance of 15,000 –earlier this week had stressed they would continue. But they may have to change plans.
Tours and visits canceled include The Pixies, Miley Cyrus and The Avalanches, The Frontier/ Touring and Chugg Entertainment tour reschedules included Jimmy Eat World, Miranda Lambert, Kip Moore, Seaforth, Marc Rebillet and the Introducing Nashville showcases,
Within the turmoil. Live Performance Australia repeated its call for government aid to protect the $2.5 billion ($1.5 billion) live sector “both in the short term and as part of the recovery phase.”
Its chief executive Evelyn Richardson warned, “We’re already seeing cancellation of events and touring programs across the country. We expect this to get worse with industry losing hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs.
A coalition of ten music and hospitality associations also asked the federal and state governments to work with them “to ensure the small businesses, musicians and workers in this sector remain viable.” 
Its figures showed there are 400 music venues across the country while hotels employ more than 250,000 people and host over 300,000 nights of live entertainment annually. Rights association APRA AMCOS collects $10 million ($6.3 million) each year to local artists for performance of their songs at live concerts and live music events.
APRA AMCOS was one of the coalition, alongside the Australian Recording Industry Association, the Australian Hotels Association, the PPCA which licenses businesses to play music, Live Performance Australia, the Australian Music Industry Network, the Australian Festivals Association, the Australian Independent Record Labels, the Association of Artist Managers and the Live Music Office.
In the short term it wants the sector to receive stimulus and grants packages. “In the longer term, government needs to consider a broad-based approach, such as a tax offset, to ensure the live music and performance sector can revive and recover from events of the last twelve months.”