Australia News: Melbourne Reopens, Hillsong, NZ Drug Testing & More
Melbourne Reopens After 100 Days, Live Music Venues Remain Dark
Melbourne opened after a 105-day shutdown on Oct. 28 with 180,000 returning to work, while thousands of others packed shopping centers, restaurants, bars, parks and beaches.
But there was little respite for live music fans, as 25% of venues failed to survive the lockdown. Many like Globe Alley could not pay their rent.
75% of those still in existence opted not to open as initial restrictions only allowed 20 seated patrons inside and 50 outdoors.
This means debt-ridden venues would operate at 5% to 10% capacity; it must be 80% to be profitable. ALH Group, which runs 80 pubs in Melbourne, will close until at least Nov. 9.
The government told operators restrictions will be gradually lightened but gave no time frame. The Australian Hotels Association asked for indoor capacity to move to 40 by Nov. 8.
– James Young, co-owner of Cherry Bar
– James Young, co-owner of Cherry Bar
The Cherry Bar, which reopened at 8% capacity, manages to get 40 patrons a nights with two timeslots – one between 9 p.m.and 11 p.m. and then 11 p.m. to 2 am.
“It’s been full house for every night, and we get a lot of hopeful walk-ins whom we have to turn away,” recounted co-owner James Young.
“It’s unprofitable to open right now but it’s essential to take a leadership role, to show that venue operators are more responsible about social distancing than anyone else because patron safety and security is paramount for us.
“It’s the only way we can get to where we want to go in terms of crowd size.”
Jon Perring of the 408-capacity Tote reopens Nov. 4, initially without live music, said “It takes some weeks to get bookings in. But we want to sort that out as soon as possible because live music is paramount for us.
“I’m still working out dealing with crowd sizes, maybe we can experiment by having the bands play outside.”
Whether this results in residential complaints, as happened in other states, remains to be seen.
Sydney-based Hillsong Church, whose gospel acts dominate U.S. Christian charts, bought Melbourne Festival Hall for A$23.3 million ($16.3 million) as its Melbourne base. It will also run as a community center and host live music, Hillsong founder Brian Houston said.
Since 1956 the 5,000-seater has hosted everyone from The Beatles and Frank Sinatra to Red Hot Chili Peppers and 5 Seconds of Summer, and bouts by Australian boxing legends Lionel Rose, Johnny Famechon and Anthony Mundine.
A consortium of media and entertainment groups contracted to buy it in March but withdrew due to financial concerns following coronavirus.
TAG, Cargolive Enter Joint Venture
The Australian operation of travel and live event specialist TAG entered a joint venture with Cargolive Australia, part of global touring freight operator Rock It Cargo Group of Companies.
“It will now give us the opportunity to be able to consolidate the work of already overstretched tour managers and promoters, allowing them to come to one place for all travel and freight needs,” said Shane Barr, TAG managing director APAC.
– Shane Barr of TAG
TAG’s divisions include touring, film & media, corporate, events and private travel
Cargolive Australia’s business development manager Trent Powell noted the move removed a level of administration and planning and “having everything under one roof will be a huge benefit to all of our clients.”
SkyCity Partners With Aotearoa Music Awards
New Zealand casino and hospitality group SkyCity signed on as accommodation and hospitality partner of the Aotearoa Music Awards Nov. 15 at Auckland’s Spark Arena.
“Now more than ever the NZ music community needs our support, said SkyCity COO Michael Ahearne, announcing the deal at the opening of SkyCity’s Auckland bar and music venue Flare.
Proposals For 24-Hour Sydney Unveiled
City of Sydney unveiled a slate of proposals to re-energize Sydney’s $4 billion ($2.8 billion) night-time economy and to create more opportunities for creative and cultural activities.
It asked for public feedback by mid-November on ideas as businesses trading until 10 p.m., and music, theatre, stand-up comedy and film screenings in retail stores, warehouses and office buildings.
Most important, existing music venues would be protected from noise complaints by new residents and development builders responsible for adequately soundproofing premises.
Lord mayor Clover Moore said, “Now is the time to breathe life into the night-time and cultural life of our city”, adding that such ideas would help businesses in their post-pandemic recovery.
NZ PM Flags More Drug Testing At Festivals
New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern flagged more drug tests at music festivals.
On a Nov. 1 media call to mark her government’s collaboration with the Greens party on issues as environmental, domestic violence and social justice she noted that the tests’ greatest opponents, the New Zealand First party, lost power in the Oct. 17 elections.
But she wanted proof first that tests save lives.
Wendy Allison, director of drug testing agency Know Your Stuff told Radio New Zealand she wanted a legal clarification so it could raise funds for the tests and expand services to more festivals this summer.
She wanted the legal clarification so the agency could seek more sources of funding and expand its services this summer.
“We know there’s a lot of MDMA around, we know there are a lot of MDMA knock-offs around, and we know that there are a lot of people concerned that they may not be able to party.”