Australia News: Anger Rises As Venues Collapse
Anger Rises As More Venues Collapse
The live performance industry has ramped up its attack on governments’ slow response to protecting the sector as more venues collapsed due to effects of the COVID-19 lockdown.
The latest economic casualty was Sydney music and arts hub Carriageworks, which went into voluntary administration May 5. Opened in 2007, the venue attracts 1 million visitors a year.
CEO Blair French said, “The sudden cancellation or postponement of six months of activities due to restrictions on public gatherings has resulted in an irreparable loss of income.” In early April almost half the venue’s staff was stood down and the rest were put on a three-day week.
Media Entertainment Arts Alliance chief executive Paul Murphy said, “It’s a special kind of ignorance and indifference that allows this kind of thing to happen” and warned more venues would follow as long as the NSW government “remains paralyzed.”
Live Performance Australia chief executive Evelyn Richardson said the sector had in late March forecast the devastation of the sector without help and dismissed the response from both NSW and the Commonwealth as “woeful.”
The NSW government has approached the Sydney Opera House to “consult on the long term sustainability” of Carriageworks.
Elsewhere Gold Coast nightclub Melbas reportedly told staff it has “no intention to re-open” and immediately laid them off.
In Adelaide, the King’s Head called in liquidators while Brian Tonkin of the Governor Hindmarsh, warned it would not survive past September without financial assistance after 150 gig bookings cancelled. “We’ve been dedicated to live music, and for 27 years we put all the money back into the artists. Now we need real help.”
In Western Australia The Flying Scotsman in Mt. Lawley called it quits after 25 years saying, “during these tough times it seems the landlord does not want us to renew the lease”. The Claremont also admitted it will not return in its current form.
Mojos in Fremantle staved off closure after raising A$60,000 (US$39,181) through GoFundMe.
Gold Coast’s Blues On Broadbeach Extends To US
Blues On Broadbeach, the three day Gold Coast festival which draws around 200,000 patrons, has for social distancing reasons, gone online this year – and opening its reach to the US.
Called Bandwidth, the 90-minute stream is live on Facebook Saturday, May 16 at 7pm Los Angeles time PDT.
It will feature from their homes, some of the 2020 bill including headliner Tommy Emmanuel; Canadian-born New Zealand-based Tami Neilson; the Turner Brown Band a collaboration between Australian slide guitarist Dom Turner and Ohio-based lap steel guitarist and vocalist Nikki D Brown; and footage from the Robert Cray Band’s 2018 set and the Lachy Doley Group’s 2019 performance.
Report Says Strip Searches At Festivals ‘Unlawful’
A report on strip searches at music festivals by the NSW Law Enforcement Conduct Commission, the state’s police watchdog, were considered “unlawful” because the police did not contact their parents or guardians, and officers involved were not properly trained or experienced enough.
Cited in the report was a 16-year old female at Splendour in the Grass 2018. Tagged by a sniffer dog (wrongly as it turned out), she had to strip completely in a tent that was not completely closed, was not advised of her rights, and “asked to squat on the ground so that the officer could look underneath her.”
A 12-year-old was told to undress at the under-age Lost City in 2019. The individual was reportedly thought to be drug- affected because his pupils were dilated and he was “shaky.” The study suggested this could have been because he was frightened and the relative lack of light in the search tent.
Murdoch Paper Fined For Defaming Silverchair Frontman
After a nine month battle Rupert Murdoch’s The Sunday Telegraph was found guilty of defaming Silverchair guitarist, singer and main songwriter Daniel Johns.
The publication claimed in August 2019 he was spotted coming out “after a two-week bender” from The Kastle brothel in the Sydney suburb of Chippendale. The establishment is known to offer bondage and discipline.
Johns insisted he was visiting a friend in the area. Calling the story “hurtful, humiliating, and damaging to me and my family,” he launched Supreme Court action. He was awarded legal costs of A$300,000 ($195,955), damages of A$170,000 ($111,041), and a public apology.
Gold Coast Awards Scammed
Going virtual this year because of the pandemic taught the Gold Coast Music Awards about the dangers of livestreaming. The 1 hour and 40 minute broadcast drew 20,000 fans, as opposed to the 3,000 when it stages at Surfers Paradise beach.
It also drew scammers, who sent 400 posts to audience members asking for credit card details.
Awards director Samantha Morris and her team spent the broadcast deleting and blocking but, she said, “Scammers were posting from multiple accounts. We would no sooner ban one and another would pop up.”
Emerging country singer Casey Barnes took out artist of the year. Other winners included roots duo Busby Marou, indie-rock Eliza and the Delusionals, producer DVNA, world music Tijuana Cartel, and electronica pop newcomer DENNIS with HOTA (Home of the Arts) taking out the venue gong.
British Theatre Impresario To Reopen Sydney’s Theatre Royal
Sydney’s oldest theatre, Theatre Royal from 1875, will reopen August 2021 after British theatre impresario, Sir Howard Panter’s global Trafalgar Entertainment Group, won the 55-year lease from the NSW government. The 1,100-seat venue has been closed since 2016.
Extensive renovations begin end of the year. Panter said he would bring elements of London’s West End, introduce his performing arts school Stagecoach and “cinema clubs,” ensure Sydney-first premieres and new Australian productions, and livestreaming to regional audiences.