Australia: Live Sector Loses $24M In First 24 Hours Of Going Dark, Festivals Cancel

Bluesfest Byron Bay
Courtesy Bluesfest
– Bluesfest Byron Bay

Live Sector Loses $24M Of Work In First 24 Hours of 500-cap, Bluesfest & Vivid Canned

The impact of the Australian government’s move to cap attendance at all events at 500 capacity and above effective March 16 to counter COVID-19 was felt immediately. 
Within 24 hours, 10,000 events went dark, hitting the livelihoods of 84,318 from the creative sector, said I Lost My Gig Australia, set up by The Australian Music Industry Network and Australian Festivals Association.  It was contacted by 882 people in that period, “bringing the reported lost (personal) income from cancelled events to A$25M ($15.44M).”
Those numbers escalated when two more festivals, Bluesfest Byron Bay and Vivid Sydney announced no-shows March 16.
Bluesfest, which draws over 100,000, was to stage April 9-13. It had a week earlier fully intended to continue as NSW Health and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee opined NSW was “low risk.” But these were superseded by the 500-cap. Headliners included Patti Smith, Crowded House, Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz and Alanis Morissette.
Festival director Peter Noble said, “We are heartbroken as we believe we were presenting one of the best ever bills of talent for you.
“I was in discussions right through last week with every headliner – they ALL said they’re coming as long as nothing occurred to prevent them from doing so. 
“That is the level of commitment that our artists have, and I am proud of.”
In 2019 Bluesfest hired 1,454 people in full-time positions with approximately A$1.6 million ($985,680) in wages and salaries. The event pumped $35.5 million ($21.86 million) to the local Byron Shire economy, A$59.1 million ($36. 39 million) to the Northern Rivers region and a total of over A$83.4 million ($51.34 million) to NSW.
The light, music and ideas Vivid was set to draw 2.2 million May 22 to June 13. The number of workers affected was not available but its economic and tourism impact is significant.  Organizer Destination NSW said Vivid contributed $172 million (US$106.18 million) to New South Wales. In 2017, it sold 65,491 international travel packages, 48.3% up from the previous year.
Benevolent societies Support Act Ltd and Entertainment Assist are steeling themselves for a flood of calls for affected workers suffering 
financial and mental health hardship.
Live Performance Australia is still awaiting a response from the government on more details on the 500-cap, including its duration. Arts minister Paul Fletcher was scheduled to meet with the sector March 17.
Arena owners were awaiting these details before taking the next step. “We don’t need to cause unnecessary angst for promoters and ticket holders with an open-ended cessation of events,” said Rod Pilbeam, COO at ASM Global  (Asia Pacific, India & Middle East). 
He added, “In the meantime, we have been busy working with our promoter and presenter partners on arrangements to deal with such a restriction, which will impact on all events in our arenas and stadiums, and many of the events we host in our convention and exhibition centres.”
ASM’s dozen Aussie venues include regular Pollstar Top 100 entrants such as Sydney’s Qudos Bank Arena and ICC theatres; Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, Entertainment Centre and Convention Centre; and RAC Arena in Perth. 
Pilbeam noted, “We have been managing the limitation of the risk of cross contamination in our venues since early in February with a range of measures including increased sanisation routines and heightened personnel management oversight.”
Two New Zealand Festivals Canned
Two New Zealand festivals were canned as the government and health authorities fought to contain coronavirus – including all arrivals to the country automatically quarantined for two weeks, causing a major problem for touring acts.
Auckland’s March 14 Pasifika Festival, which draws 60,000 from across the Pacific, switched off 24 hours before. Associate Minister of Pacific Peoples, Carmel Sepuloni, explained tourist attendees would have spread the virus across the islands, and “contact tracing would have been incredibly difficult.” Auckland businesses set up pop-up markets to help stallholders left with tens of thousands of dollars of stock.
March 21’s Homegrown, to feature 44 New Zealand acts before a sold-out 21,000 crowd on the Wellington waterfront, was postponed March 16. It injects NZ$7.2 million (US$4.36 million) into . Promoter Andrew Tuck said, “We are devastated as the waterfront build was looking awesome but we completely agree with the advice we have been given and we need to look at the bigger picture and what is best for the health of New Zealanders.”
Harry Styles, Killers, For Spring
Live Nation brings Harry Styles’ Love On Tour  for five arena dates November 20 to December 2, pairing him with Neneh Cherry’s 1 billion streaming 23-year old daughter Mabel.
After selling out 10 arenas 2018, Frontier Touring has The Killers’ Mirage Tour at four arenas March 18 to 21. The act began visiting early in its career, selling almost 1 million albums and generating 263 million streams in Australia.
Destroy All Lines upgraded the Offspring’s April 21 Adelaide show to the Entrainment Centre and added an extra date att Wollongong’s WIN Entertainment Centre April 16. The act is touring with Sum 41.

Strong Figures For WOMADelaide

WOMADelaide 2020, set a new attendance record, with 97,000 through the gates March 6—9 of Adelaide’s Botanic Park. It broke the 2018 milestone of 96,000. Featured acts included event openers Blind Boys of Alabama, Salif Keita Mavis Staples, India’s maestro violinist L Subramaniam, New Zealand’s Aldous Harding and  Brazil’s Jorge Ben Jor with Australia’s The Cat Empire, hip hop act Briggs, soul singer Ngaiire and singer songwriter Matt Corby.