Bluesfest head Peter Noble has joined voices in the Australian music industry calling on the Federal Government to extend the JobKeeper scheme, create a business interruption insurance policy and more in a new statement.
In a message shared publicly on his personal Facebook page on Sunday (January 17) and sent to media today by Bluesfest, Noble opened with a reminder that the music industry’s issues had not gone away as it went into a “second year, of little, or no gigs as a result of Covid”.
“We need government to find money to get us through this time, lots of it,” the festival executive wrote.
“We need them to Save Our Stages, as has been done in the US and across Europe through large grants, tax write offs and investment,” Noble wrote, “and as well create a business interruption insurance policy to incentivise event presenters to put on events and be protected in not going to the wall, should an out break of Covid shut down their businesses at short notice and protect artists, crew and Suppliers [to] get paid should that occur.”
The business interruption insurance policy Noble refers to is modelled on a $50million Temporary Interruption Fund currently in place for the Australian film industry. “The Federal government did it more than six months ago for the Film Industry to get them back to making movies,” Noble writes. “Why are we still waiting?”
Live Performance Australia is currently advocating for a similar fund for the local music industry.
Noble continued, saying it is “unjust for government not to support us more than they have financially, simply by extending Job Keeper to those industries they have regulated not to be able to get back to work without major restrictions.
“The Live Music Industry, we will see many of our fellow workers be laid off when it end in March. How can that be justified on any level?”
Earlier today, APRA AMCOS Dean Ormston also issued a statement asking the Federal Government to extend the JobKeeper scheme past its end-date of March 28 because “[the music industry] will be the last sector able to restart anything akin to business as usual”.
In his statement, Noble urged media to “report positively on us, and support the return of live music regularly in their reporting” as he believes these issues “just aren’t being discussed regularly, and they aren’t being reported, as our industry endures this marathon of waiting”.
The festival head also addressed punters themselves, asking them to hold onto their tickets to postponed events, claiming each refund entails a ticketing agency service charge of $8.
“The show presenters, facing up to two years of no shows, [are] charged for this, after having paid staff to work on the show, bought advertising and paid a deposit to the artist which will be returned with costs deducted,” Noble said. “This isn’t sustainable for our industry and will result in less promoters and less shows, particularly in the indie area.”
Read Noble’s full statement below via his Facebook page:
To my friends in the music industry …. their families and those who love music. As we are soon going into our second…
In July last year, Noble criticised the $250million stimulus package for the arts and entertainment sector, saying at the time that “nobody seems to know the details” on how businesses could actually access the loans and grants. Then, he also raised concerns on the JobKeeper subsidy ending in September 2020, though it was ultimately extended to March 28, 2021.
The 2020 edition of Bluesfest was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but is slated to go ahead this year with an all-Australian lineup over the 2021 Easter weekend, headlined by Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana, The Teskey Brothers, Kate Miller-Heidke, Briggs and more.
In a Facebook post on January 13, Bluesfest wrote that, “Our discussions with the Government COVID-Safety representatives have been extremely positive and continue to be while we work towards bringing you this year’s festival in a thrilling and safe way.”