Australia News: Event Saver Fund; Cancellations, No-Shows Rise; Harry Styles Cancels

Sydney Festival
Courtesy Sydney Festival

COVID CANCELLATIONS: Sydney Festival, which draws 550,000 to a variety of indoor and outdoor events, sees seven productions canceled and two postponements thanks to the Omicron variant surge.


NSW Announces Events Saver Fund
New South Wales (NSW) announced the A$43 million ($30.8 million) Event Saver Fund allowing promoters to pay out-of-pocket artists, staff and suppliers and recover costs caused by COVID disruption.
Claims are capped at A$10 million ($7.18 million) and apply to events from Dec. 15, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022.
For example, an event closed 13 weeks out gets 15% or A$2.7 million ($1.9 million). If it’s eight to 13 weeks, that’s 45% or A$8.1 million ($5.8 million). Those hit within one to eight weeks get the full A$10 million ($7.18 million).
Promoters must pay affected artists and contractors within 14 days of receiving the grant.
The $10 million cap had some disgruntled, as the shortfall could be as much as $8 million ($5.7 million) for their events.
“It just leaves our businesses vulnerable,” said one festival promoter. “What happens if our creditors say, ‘I don’t accept that?’ and initiates legal action?
“The government says it will bring certainty to the sector to stage more events. Far from it, I couldn’t take this to the bank and get a loan.”
Cancellations And No-Shows Rise
Surveys are providing cold data on the erosion of consumer confidence from cancellations and reschedules in the past two years.
Ticketing agency OzTix reported that fans are hesitant to buy tickets and that no-shows were 30% to 60% at events through January.
A survey by Save Victorian Events found 46% of events set for January and February in the state of Victoria were cancelled, 28% were postponed and many of the rest (16%) were at serious risk.
Those who took part predicted that in March and April cancellations would be 22%, reschedules at 30% and 36% were at risk.
The association’s Simon Thewlis told Pollstar a solution was for the state government to persuade people to go back to work in offices and mark a return to the Melbourne CBD.
Music venues were seeing a 60% no-show in January, even at sold-out shows, and a similar drop in ticket sales, according to Will Ewing, director of Melbourne’s Brunswick Ballroom.
This is in addition to problems as density cuts in the latest COVID restrictions: 70 of Melbourne’s live music venues saw a 70% trade cut.
Many music productions in Sydney are playing to half empty audiences or cancelling.
Sydney Festival (Jan. 6-30), which draws 500,000 to outdoor events and 50,000 to ticketed shows with a $55 million ($39.5 million) injection to NSW’s economy, was hit hard with seven productions cancelled and two more postponed.
Harry Styles Drops Australia, NZ
When Harry Styles announced new dates for 2022 in the UK, Europe and South America, he had to cancel his eight Australia and New Zealand “Love On Tour” arena shows. 
The run of dates were first set for September 2020, going to market that March as the pandemic hit. 
“I can’t believe it’s been four years,” the singer said, referring to his last visit. 
“I can’t wait to see you again but unfortunately it is just not possible at this time.”  
Styles’ 2018 tour featured a few gigs Down Under including a sold-out Nov. 26 show at Enmore Theatre in Sydney that sold 2,446 tickets and grossed A$297,442 ($210,708).
The pop star also played Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, Dec. 2, 2018, selling 7,575 tickets and grossing NZ$804,028 ($525,464).
Red Alert Forces Three Festivals To Cancel
Three festivals cancelled hours after New Zealand went into red light setting Jan. 21 because of an Omicron outbreak in a family, limiting events to 100 people.
The Others Way Festival was supposed to feature 50 acts Jan. 29. Splore Festival (Feb. 25-27) which sold out “in a matter of hours” back in June, also pulled the plug, as did Auckland Pride Festival, Feb. 1-27. The three followed the cancellation of Rhythm and Vines, Rainbow Pride Parade and Big Gay Out 2022.