Almost half of Victoria’s summer events face cancellation due to COVID-19

Survey data compiled by Save Victorian Events shows more hope about the second half of 2022

According to a recent survey of Victoria’s live entertainment industry, 46 per cent of events that are due to be held this summer face cancellation over the current surge in local COVID-19 cases.

The data comes from Save Victorian Events, which published its findings – based on answers provided by 410 respondents – last Thursday (January 20). The organisation has claimed that 46 per cent of events scheduled for January and February have either been axed altogether or are on track to be, while 28 per cent have been or will be rescheduled, and a further 16 per cent remain at risk of either fate.

The data forecasts that calendars will continue to be shaken up throughout March and April, with 22 per cent of events facing cancellation, 30 per cent postponed, and 36 per cent at risk. The numbers are more hopeful about the second half of 2022, with an estimated nine per cent of events cancelled and 12 per cent postponed. However, 44 per cent remain at risk.

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Companies have faced a significant blow to their bottom lines throughout the pandemic, with the survey data showing that in the 16 months between April 2020 and August 2021, earned income plummeted by a resounding 81 per cent (as compared to a “normal year” pre-pandemic). The landscape was even more dire for freelancers and contractors, whose earnings sank 84 per cent.

Thank you to everyone who reponded to this survey. We had over 400 responses. The results, along with an email…

Posted by Save Victorian Events on Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Speaking to The Music Network, Simon Thewlis of Save Victorian Events explained that while a portion of respondents belonged to Victoria’s live music sector, the organisation “didn’t try to separate different types of events as nowadays so many people will be (working) on a festival one day, a corporate gig the next, and something else again the following day”.

Thewlis also spoke to the mounting pressure for government support of those working in live entertainment jobs, pointing out that as the government continues to encourage working from home, those workers are left in the dust.

“It’s only fair and reasonable governments do provide financial support to event people and businesses until events can be viable again and event people can be working again,” he said.

Notable is that Victoria was the first state to introduce an insurance fund for those impacted by event cancellations, after the federal government repeatedly stonewalled calls for a nationwide scheme. The state implemented its interruption scheme in November of 2021, launching as a 12-month pilot program insuring up to $230million for “events cancelled because of public health measures, or because of reduced capacity due to restrictions”.

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Victoria certainly isn’t the only Australian state facing widespread event cancellations and postponements right now. In Western Australia – where premier Mark McGowan announced last Friday (January 21) that the state’s border would remain closed indefinitely – The Music Network claim that promoters had sold approximately 100,000 tickets (valued at $13million) for events slated through to the end of April.

In a statement shared with the publication, local promotor John Zaccaria said: “Friday’s announcement took us by complete surprise. Now the sector is anxious and fearful. Without a plan [from the government], uncertainty is our biggest enemy.”

The publication reports that Live Entertainment WA – of which Zaccaria is a founder – has called for meetings with McGowan, police commissioner Chris Dawson and chief health officer Michael Levitt. A letter to McGowan reportedly raised the topic of potential exceptions to the mandates, akin to what sporting codes are allowed, as well as a review of the government’s ‘Getting The Show Back On The Road’ program.

On the NSW front, it was announced earlier today that restrictions on singing and dancing would be extended past this Thursday (January 27) until at least February 28.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Australia’s arts minister, Paul Fletcher, was lobbied for a federal event insurance scheme in December but showed “no appetite” for one. Days after that news broke, Fletcher confirmed that the government would extend the film and TV industry’s Temporary Interruption Fund (TIF); in response, a host of live music industry bodies called on Fletcher to enact a similar initiative for its own sector.

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