Australia News: Sydney Olympic Park; Insurer Drops Pill Testing; Festival Conference Returns; NZ Caps Lifted


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The 21,000-capacity Qudos Bank Arena is part of the Sydney Olympic Park quarter, built for the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, is included in initiatives to reactivate live music. (Photo: Santiago Felipe / Getty Images

Live Music Reactivated In Sydney Olympic Park

The Sydney Olympic Park Authority (SOPA) launched two initiatives to reactivate live music in the 430-hectare precinct.

The quarter, built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics, includes the 110,000-capacity Accor Stadium and 21,000 concert-capacity Qudos Bank Arena.

The eleven-week Park Sounds, funded by the New South Wales government for A$500,000 (US$360.300), covers 50 concerts until May 29, from Midnight Oil to The Wiggles. “Performers and live entertainers were among the first to be shut down when the pandemic struck and are still yet to reach a level of normality,” SOPA CEO Anita Mitchell said.

With events including art, street performances, bars and dining, the initiative will create “hundreds” of jobs for artists, suppliers, operators and event staff, she added.

The authority is also to announce a plan to subsidize promoters who stage shows there as part of a strategy to reclaim the precinct as an events and entertainment destination.

Festival Insurer Drops Pill-Testing

The national Groovin The Moo tour had to pull its on-site pill testing for a third year at its April 24 show in Canberra.

Its insurance company refused permission three days before.

The Canberra stop, which draws 21,000, was the first in Australia to offer the service in 2018, after the Australian Capital Territory solely allowed it, with Harm Reduction Australia and Pill Testing Australia conducting the tests.

Since the pandemic, insurers regard music events as greater risk.

Harm Reduction Australia president Gino Vumbaca said that the insurer requested more last-minute data that his association could not provide in the 48-hour deadline.

Forty volunteers, including health professionals, were rostered on for the day.

Festival Industry Conference Returns

After two years, the Australian Festival Industry Conference returns Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at Sea World Resort in Queensland.“There’s never been a better time to meet and discuss,” said founder Carlina Ericson.

“There’s a positive energy blowing through as more festivals return with strong numbers.
“But people are still navigating out of COVID and it’s something they need to discuss.”

Among 16 speakers are events director Thea Jeanes-Cochrane and German virtual reality VRHAM! festival on the post-pandemic landscape, Bluesfest’s Peter Noble on the need for a national events insurance scheme, World Health Organization consultant Dr Jamie Ranse on mass gatherings, and disability access and inclusion expert Morwenna Collett.


Audience Caps Lifted For Indoor Venues

Restrictions on indoor venues were lifted after New Zealand’s COVID traffic light system moved to orange from red following “sustained reduction in cases and hospitalizations.”

Previously music venues had to cap patrons at 200 with 1-meter social distancing.

“Better late than never,” said Julie White of Hospitality NZ, adding, “The road to recovery will be slow but getting started is vital.”

The Auckland Business Chamber’s Michael Barnett said the lifting of restrictions (which also included hospitality, retail and events) “clearly signal to customers that it is safe to re-engage.”