Australia News: Jobkeeper Subsidy, Chris Murphy Memorial Forest & More

Live Sector Calls For Extension Of Jobkeeper Subsidy Scheme
– Dean Ormston

The live sector is calling on the Australian government to extend its Jobkeeper subsidy scheme for its members. Introduced March 2020, it offered pandemic affected companies A$1,500 ($1,157) per fortnight for each employee. In September, it was extended it to end of March 2021 at a cost of A$100 billion ($77.1 billion). 

The sector, which relied heavily on the subsidies for its survival, argues it is unable to restart trading following COVID-19 outbreaks, quarantine breaches and sudden state border closures.
“(These) mean that any local live music events and national touring is impossible to plan. Hospitality and tourism dollars generated from our sector remain stifled. We are an industry in crisis,” said Dean Ormston, chief executive of APRA AMCOS, a major rights association which includes the Live Music Office.
With the sector expected to be the last to restart Ormston said it was as much an economic reason as culturally to keep JobKeeper going for live music and events. The sector contributed A$15 billion ($11.5 billion) per year to the economy and employed close to 200,000. 
“Australia Institute research found that for every million dollars in turnover, arts and entertainment produce 9 jobs while the construction industry only produces around one job. We can’t afford to lose the skills and businesses of our sector. The result for Australia would be catastrophic.”
Julia Robinson, GM of the Australian Festivals Association, pointed out that the under-30s consumer market, which was most eager to return to live events, also relied on the scheme.
She told NME Australia, “I’m interested to see what happens post-March when people start losing their JobKeeper and JobSeeker benefits – especially when that younger crowd has to think long-term about their expendable income.”
– Peter Noble

In an open letter, Bluesfest director Peter Noble called on the government to adopt the Save Our Stages schemes of the northern hemisphere with grants, tax write offs and investment, and a business interruption insurance policy to encourage promoters to put on events and be financially protected if there was a closure, along with suppliers, artists and crews.

“The federal government did it more than six months ago for the film industry to get them back to making movies… why are we still waiting?” Noble wrote.
Memorial Forest For Chris Murphy
– Artist impression of X Building

The family of entertainment, digital and organic farming entrepreneur Chris Murphy – best known as managerial driving force of INXS’s 50 million selling global success – is setting up the Christopher Murphy (CM) Memorial Forest at his Sugar Beach Ranch in the New South Wales far north coast area of Ballina.

Friends and colleagues were invited to donate a tree. The memorial forest “will continue to grow to provide a place of reflection but also to celebrate his legacy and love of nature.”
Among projects Murphy was working on when he died Jan. 16 from cancer were music/tech hub X Building and a retirement home for music executives. Both were in Ballina. The town’s mayor David Wright wasn’t sure if the projects would go ahead. “I don’t believe there’s anybody that’s got the energy that he had and the connections but we’ll wait and see,” he said.
Snow Machine NZ Debut Sells Out
– Snow Machine NZ

The New Zealand debut of alpine festival Snow Machine sold out its 5,000 ticket packages in a week, organizers posted on social media. It stages Sept. 8 to 11 in adventure mecca Queenstown, on the Coronet Peak and The Remarkables ski mountains. 

Evening entertainment comes from mostly Aussie acts including The Avalanches, The Presets, Flight Facilities and Sneaky Sound System, DJs Hayden James and Hot Dub Time Machine, and hip hop names Hermitude and Illy.
Optus Stadium Australia’s First 5G Venue
– Optus Stadium

Perth’s 60,000-seat Optus Stadium became Australia’s first 5G-connected venue Jan. 22. 

Operator Venues Live and major telco Optus utilized Nokia’s 5G AirScale indoor radio solution (ASiR), saying patrons could more quickly download and upload images and stream videos to social media. Venue CEO Mike McKenna said there would be no problem with 60,000 simultaneously utilizing the network.
It offers 3D stadium tours and racecar experiences, while drinks and food are ordered and delivered to seats. Via an Optus app fans join sports game play on the field and take a drummer’s view of the audience. 
Optus Stadium is also introducing Feb. 27 a two-hour thrill experience, where groups of 14 can walk on its roof and watch events from an overhanging viewing platform 42m above the turf.
New Teams Enter In Perth, Sydney
– Rosemount Hotel’s new team

Perth’s Rosemount Hotel has hired an in-house booking team to diversify its program. 

General manager Calvin Hook said last year’s pandemic lock-in provided new ways to invest in music, “allowing us to more closely nurture the talent here and personally servicing the needs of touring bands, national promoters and agents.” 
Taking over from the Cool Perth Nights agency after five years are Sinead O’Hara as programming & communications manager and Ashlyn Koh as programming coordinator.
Odd Culture Group take over operations of Sydney theatre pub Old Fitzroy Hotel Feb. 18. It will collaborate with Red Line Productions, operators of Old Fitz Theatre, to augment theater and patron experience.
French Tourist Expelled Over Illegal Rave
Queensland police have cracked down on COVID rule-breakers. A French tourist was deported back to France for organizing an illegal dance party on New Year’s Eve.
On Jan. 23 ten police were rushed to South Stradbroke Island where drunken revelers at the Couran Cove Resort began brawling at the end of the Vibez festival as 350 patrons were set to be ferried back to the mainland. Pepper spray was used and investigations began to determine if COVID and liquor compliances were breached. 
On the same night the EDM Send It festival at the Gold Coast Turf Club was temporarily stopped after patrons bunched up in front of the stage and ignored social distancing rules set up by promoters.

Sydney Mardi Gras Introduces Grant For Cash Strapped Venues
The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras street parade, which normally draws hundreds of thousands for an economic draw of A$30 million ($23.1 million) this year was moved to the Sydney Cricket Ground with a capacity of 23,000 March 6.
To widen its reach, the festival and longtime partner Facebook Australia set up a new A$100,000 ($77,133) grants program for cash-strapped hospitality venues and small businesses to hold events, and book queer artists and performers.
Festival CEO Albert Kruger said, “Despite border closures and changing restrictions, it is our intention to continue to support the hospitality and arts and culture sectors and ensure the Mardi Gras Parade is as accessible as possible.”
Glenn Hansen, promotions and marketing manager for LGBTQI+ venue Stonewall said, “The LGBTQIA+ venues, performers and DJ’s were all heavily impacted by the global pandemic. During the first lockdown we had to say goodbye to not only our staff but our entertainers and this was incredibly hard.”