Australia: Music Industry Unsatisfied With $27m In Relief


Arts minister Paul Fletcher addressing maiden speech in Parliament

Music Industry Unimpressed With $27m Govt. Funding

The Australian government confirmed April 9 a package of A$27 million (US$17.14 million) in funding for the music and arts industries during the coronavirus pandemic. 

It was made up of A$10 million ($6.34 million) for the industry’s well being charity Support Act, and A$17 million ($10.79 million) for First Nation and regional musicians, artists and associations.

Arts minister Paul Fletcher described the funding as “specifically targeted measures where we think we can provide support.”

Support Act provides health and financial help. Its counseling helpline reported a 400% increase in calls since the industry began shutting down early March due to social distancing measures.

Its chair Sally Howland said, “Despite dozens of online fundraising campaigns by hundreds of artists over recent weeks, the organization has been stretched to the absolute limit by these cries for help so (the) announcement will be a game changer for the entire music community.”

The fresh funding will increase resources to those in need, and allows the service to recruit new counselors and expand counseling services. 

Also needing help are those who don’t fit the criteria for the government’s new across-the-board packages: JobSeeker for the 1 million Australians who lost their jobs; and JobKeeper which pays companies A$1,500 ($952) per employee to keep them operating at full strength.

The $27 million is a far cry from the A$850 million ($539.59 million) that music promoters asked for – the music sector estimates it contributes over A$15 billion ($9.52 million) of value to the local community – and a A$2 billion ($1.26 billion) survival and stimulus package request from the wider A$4 billion ($2.53 billion) worth live performance sector.

While tentatively welcoming the $27 million, Live Performance Australia’s chief executive officer Evelyn Richardson also stated, “Our industry will need much, much more in the form of direct assistance from all levels of government if we are to have a live performance industry of any scale following the pandemic crisis.”

Amendments to April 8’s JobKeeper proposed by the major opposition Labor party targeting the arts and entertainment sector failed.

Shadow minister for the arts Tony Burke argued in parliament, “While some people want to think of this sector as celebrities, they are workers. 

They are workers who are almost entirely ineligible for the scheme that is before us right now because their work by and large goes to forward contracts.”

COVID-19 Ends $100m Venue Buy-Out …

The closure of all entertainment venues due to COVID-19 is attributed to Wall Street private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts-backed Australian Venue Company pulling out of buying eight pubs from the Sand Hill Road group.

The deal estimated to be A$100 million ($63.4 million) was announced early March before social distancing requirements were introduced. Among the properties was high profile music venue The Esplanade Hotel in St Kilda, Melbourne. 

A cooling-off period allowed AVC to quit the sale. Its statement added,  “The two companies have enormous respect for one another and the intention remains to pick up discussions again once we are through this crisis.”

… And Career of NSW Arts Minister

New South Wales (NSW) Arts Minister Don Harwin resigned from cabinet after he was photographed by media at his holiday home on the state’s central coast.

This was in breach of a ban on non-essential travel due to the coronavirus, and he was slapped with a A$1,000 ($634) fine by police. Harwin will remain in parliament.
– Sophie Kirov
Sophie Kirov of Lost Motels

Lost Motel Sets Up In LA, Byron Bay

Live music veterans, Los Angeles-based Yasmin Massey and Byron Bay’s Sophie Kirov created a new multi service agency for touring and events called Lost Motel. Over 20 years their careers spanned tour management, artist liaison, marketing, sponsorship and visas.

“We pride ourselves on the idea that we have stood in the shoes of the people we’re now engaged by,” they said in a joint statement, adding they offer all facets of the tour cycle including routing, budgets, show design, crewing, production, logistics, schedules and tour administration. 

New CD For National Indigenous Music Awards

In its tenth year, the National Indigenous Music Awards announced its first creative director, Ben Graetz. An advocate for the First Nations, disability, LGBTIQA+ and arts communities, Graetz served as artistic director of Darwin Pride, Darwin Entertainment Centre, Garrmalang Festival and Arafura Games, and won artist of the year in the 2019 LGBTI Australia awards for his alter-ego Miss Ellaneous.

Held in Darwin mid-year traditionally before an audience of 4,000 this year’s sees it go online due to social distancing restrictions.

– Yasmin Massey
Yasmin Massey of Lost Motel

Spring Loaded Heads To Spring

The second instalment of Spring Loaded festival – its inaugural event was a sell-out – has been moved from May to November. Empire Touring announced the new date for the Sydney show, at Royal Randwick, with the new date for Queensland’s Bribie Island is being finalized.

The bill consists of ’90s Aussie acts Grinspoon, Jebediah, Custard, Frenzal Rhomb, Magic Dirt, Tumbleweed, Screamfeeder and Caligula.