Australia: Aussie Entertainment Expects Substantial Bail-Out
Aussie Entertainment Biz Expecting Bail-Out Package After Prime Minister Initiates Talks
Australia’s arts and entertainment business is confident of a substantial bail-out package from the federal government after a virtual meeting June 18 called by prime minister Scott Morrison. Arts minister Paul Fletcher and treasurer Josh Frydenberg also attended.
Prior to the meeting, post-pandemic relations with the federal government were low. In March the sector asked for a A$370 million ($252.9 million) package. It only received A$27 million ($19.1 million) for regional and First Nation organizations and business charity Support Act. On June 4 the biz requested A$345 million ($235.8 million). Meantime, various states were providing up to A$50 million ($34.1 million) help packages.
The Prime Minister invited 16 execs from tour companies, promoters, record labels, publishers, music export, road crews and artists. Each was allowed a 60-second pitch, with one describing it as “positive and consistent”. Morrison displayed a sincere determination to identify the challenges for the industry.
The live sector emphasized the need for funding for domestic acts to start touring, for state borders to be re-opened, the impracticality of current physical distancing requirements were for venues, and the need to keep workers employed so as not to lose their skills.
Given Australia’s success in flattening the coronavirus curve, it seems highly likely it will be among the first to open to international tours by early 2021. In that instance, the sector asked for governmental help iwith quarantine and arena access, and for diplomats in the US to help with visa requirements for Aussie acts.
Immediately after the meting, the prime minister spoke at a scheduled media conference. “I’ve just met from groups in the entertainment industry and they were doing things very tough and they will endure challenges longer than most,” he said.
“I’d like to thank them for their insight and candor, their support for the (work scheme) JobKeeper program and their feedback on how we can work collaboratively to help get the industry on its feet.”
Plans for an economic package was sent to cabinet ministers later that day.
City Of Sydney Proposes New Spaces For Live Music
The City of Sydney proposed a slew of reforms that will open up non-traditional spaces for live music. Lord mayor Clover Moore said it was part of a vision to kickstart Sydney’s A$4 billion ($2.73 billion) nighttime economy post-pandemic.
She said the changes would “reimagine and revitalize” the city, creating solutions to businesses facing much red tape when applying to extend trading hours or putting on small performances.
“We want to see cultural activity in unexpected locations – stand-up comedy in bookshops, or live music in hairdressing salons.
“We want to make it easier for our businesses, from hardware stores to grocers, to be able to open later if they’d like to.”
The Fair Management of Entertainment Sound proposal would allow shops, businesses and low-impact food and drink venues in central Sydney and on village high streets to trade until 2 a.m. and music, films, performance, talks, seminars and community events could have their hours extended to suit.
A new 24-hour cultural precinct would be set up in the former industrial precinct of Alexandria.
New developments near late night venues and precincts would have stricter rules about sound proofing. So would new and extended music venues. Moore pointed out that these ideas would need to get approval from residents, and public feedback would begin June 29.
In the meantime venue operators are pushing to take gigs and theater shows outside to bypass current four-square-meter social distancing rules. These make it financially non-viable to operate and operators say it makes perfect sense at this time to tap into rules allowing larger gatherings outdoors by holding them in parks and laneways.
Blow For Melbourne Venues As Physical Distancing To Stay
Plans for music venues in Melbourne, live capital of Australia, to reopen June 22 with 50 patrons, were dealt a blow. An unexpected 92 new coronavirus cases in the state of Victoria over five days before has meant the number of patrons allowed has been reduced to 20.
Bars, clubs pubs, gyms, cinemas and indoor sports centers faced a similar lukewarm start with minimum people allowed.
Four days before (June 18), an online petition with 15,500 signatures – the largest ever collected for state parliament – calling for funding for music venues “until they are able to trade sustainably” was tabled by the Reason Party.
Put together by Save Our Scene, a liv sector consortium, it also called for “a clear and balanced roadmap to reopening at full capacity; and a fund to support the relaunching of our industry when COVID restrictions are lifted.”
Venue operators argued rent, utilities and physical distancing requirements don’t allow them to make money and 45% said they won’t last past end of the year without financial aid.
In the meantime, 14-year old live music venue The Gem became the fourth in Melbourne to go on the market after restrictions. It follows moves by The Gasometer, The Spotted Mallard and the building in which Revolver Upstairs is located.