Australia News: Business Interruption Fund, Great Southern Nights, Sidney Myer Music Bowl & More

– Unified Gathering

Aussie Live Sector Proposes Business Interruption Fund
Live Performance Australia called for the Australian government to set up a Business Interruption Fund to protect the industry against future COVID-related shutdowns. It estimated the sector’s financial toll in 2020 at A$24 billion ($18.07 billion) in lost economic output and almost $11 billion in lost industry value. It also saw 79,000 jobs cut – or around two thirds of the workforce.
LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson said, “The live performance industry was the first to be completely shut down by public health restrictions, and remains 
among the most vulnerable to future closure due to new outbreaks.
“Live performance businesses have little or no financial reserves to survive another shutdown, and this risk will hold back the industry’s reactivation and its contribution to our economic recovery.”
Insurance premiums are up to 400% while producers and promoters complain they can’t insure against virus breakouts.
The level of support would be capped and participants required to pay a fee calculated at a percentage of the level of coverage required. The LPA proposal was modeled on a plan the government put in place for the screen industry.
Music events are slowly returning as COVID-related restrictions are lifted. But three major festivals cited current and future restrictions for cancelling early December.
Heavy rock Unified Gathering outside Melbourne scrapped its March event saying “Without enough assurances that (we) can go ahead in a safe and financially viable way, we don’t want to take any risks.”
Golden Plains axed its 18th installment in March for similar reasons.
Perth dance event Breakfest pulled the plug on 20th celebrations on Boxing Day after failing to agree with health authorities on safety measures.
Great Southern Nights Hailed A Success
– Birds of Tokyo

The Great Southern Nights initiative produced by the New South Wales (NSW) government’s tourism and major events agency Destination NSW with the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) to kickstart the state’s live music sector was hailed a success. 

Over 75,000 tickets sold for 1100 shows in 140 towns. Major names included Birds of Tokyo, Jimmy Barnes and Tones & I.
Venues, rehearsal studios, roadies and tech staff reported resultant significant growth in business, with bookings ongoing for many beyond November as confidence grew. Flow Bar owner Stephen Doessel said, “In the six and a half years owning the business, this has been our biggest November on record.”

Sidney Myer Music Bowl Set For $500K Upgrade
– Sidney Myer Music Bowl

With a greater post-pandemic focus on outdoor events, 61-year old Sidney Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne is spending A$500,000 ($376,656) to extend from being a one-stage venue catering primarily for major events which supply their own equipment. 

To lure more festivals and concerts, it is building an additional smaller stage in the grounds, upgrading sound, lighting, audio visual and broadcast facilities, and introducing food and beverage offerings.
Arts Centre Melbourne chief executive officer Claire Spencer told The Age newspaper, “We’d like it to be more festival based. We’re always going to keep the main stage but we’re finding now that people want a more layered experience and want to wander from stage to stage.”
Blues On Broadbeach, Mona Foma, Deni Ute Muster, Confirm Return
– Blues On Broadbeach

The 20th Blues On Broadbeach festival on the Gold Coast returns May 20 – 23, 2021, with first acts including Nashville-based expat guitarist Tommy Emmanuel. 

In 2019, the free festival drew 180,000 and generated A$22 million ($16.5 million) for the local economy. This year due to COVID, it livestreamed over two-hours to 150,000 viewers, mostly from Australia, France, UK, New Zealand and the US.
Tasmania’s experimental Mona Foma, curated by Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie, expands to two cities. It stages in Launceston Jan. 15—17 and then returns to its first home, Hobart, Jan. 22—24. Over 350 artists play in 58 venues.
The Acoustic Life Of Boatsheds in Launceston will see attendees taken along the Tamar and Esk Rivers “exploring boatsheds along the way with musicians performing compositions inspired by each shed’s hidden culture and character.” Unique natural formation Cataract Gorge Reserve hosts the world premiere of Aqua Luma with 12-meter high water jets, lasers and an electronic composition beamed to patrons’ phones. 
Deni Ute Muster, which draws 20,000, is staging Oct. 1 and 2, 2021, in its 23rd year. Quintessentially Australian, the music includes A-league country acts, as well as world record attempts for most trucks and blue singlets on site, as well as bullrides, camel rides, whipcracking and wood chopping.
New Zealand’s KiwiKrew Folds
KiwiKrew, the Auckland-based road crew firm that worked most international superstar tours since 2015, went into voluntary liquidation. 
Directors Paeru Nicholls and Rick Tewini said 25 full-time staff lost their jobs. 
Creditors included Inland Revenue owed NZ$445,000 ($315,354). 
Through the pandemic the company was losing NZ$10,000 ($7,086) a month with no income, worsened with NZ continually extending its border closure. 
A rescheduled Elton John tour they were booked to do was further delayed to 2023.

Executive Changes At Support Act, Sydney Opera House, QMusic & More
– Millie Millgate

Former venue booker and artist manager Millie Millgate, currently executive producer at music export body Sounds Australia, was appointed a director of music charity Support Act Limited.

Sydney Opera House said its new chair was businesswoman, former first lady and Sydney lord mayor Lucy Turnbull. 
Events producer Ebony Bott, most recently curator Adelaide Cabaret Festival, is new head of contemporary performance.
Queensland music association QMusic’s new management committee is headed by lawyer Natalie Strijland and promoter and artist manager D-J Wendt. A new addition to the board is John Collins, former member of Powderfinger who now runs Brisbane’s Triffid and Fortitude Music Hall music venues.

– Trent Grimes
Trent Grimes, GM of TMRW Music Group took over EDM bookings at newly reopened music venue NightQuarter on the Sunshine Coast.
Music Tasmania’s CEO Laura Harper leaves Dec. 18 after five years.
Perth Festival’s executive producer Anna Reece, leaves following the delivery of the 2021 event in March, to take on the role of director at Fremantle Arts Centre.
Alex Raupach, former GM of the Canberra International Music Festival, joins the programming team at the government-run artsACT.
– Bonnie Dalton

Bonnie Dalton takes over as senior manager of contemporary music at the Victorian government’s Creative Victoria and plays a major role in reactivating the state’s live industry. She was the inaugural general manager of the Victorian Music Development Office.

After the exit of CEO Dan Viney, multi-music venue operator Sand Hill Road replaced him with the dual leader team of Bianca Dawson as COO and Matthew Rogers as CFO.