Live music industry council calls for further easing of venue capacity restrictions

A cross-border 'essential live music industry worker permit' has also been floated

The national industry body for live music has joined the call for state and territory governments to ease capacity restrictions on venues.

The Australian Live Music Business Council has warned that hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs are at risk if restrictions are not lifted in the next few months. In a statement, ALMBC head Craig Spann said the idea that the live music sector has bounced back is false.

“Those shows that are being presented are hampered by restrictions and crowd limits making them unprofitable and unsustainable, with many venues running at well under half their usual capacity for the indefinite future,” he said.

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“Meanwhile, national tours have not been feasible since March last year. Snap lockdowns and wildly varied quarantine conditions have robbed the industry of confidence while also losing revenue and increasing costs – losses are significant and are putting our industry even further behind as we try to recover.”

Additionally, the organisation has proposed the introduction of an ‘essential live music industry worker permit’, which would ensure interstate travel for touring artists or crew in the case of a sudden border closure.

“With next to no community transmission, we are confident that we can work with authorities to protect the community in our venues while looking after the future of our industry,” Spann said.

“All we ask is that government at all levels work with us and listen to the deep concerns of our members.”

The ALMBC has drawn from a survey it conducted of 160 businesses nationally, which found more than two-thirds of participants had seen their revenue decline by somewhere between 75 and 100 per cent. Forty-five per cent of participants also said it will be roughly three months before they are forced to close.

Similar calls to ease venue restrictions were made last week by Live Performance Australia. In a statement, chief executive Evelyn Richardson said states and territories need to follow Queensland’s recent move to increase capacities to 100 per cent.

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“We know that small live performance venues are struggling to program events given the current restrictions and events of scale such as concerts and music festivals are a long way off returning to normal business operations,” Richardson said.

“For a producer putting a show into market, the current patchwork of restrictions severely hinders their ability to design a business model that works in terms of ticket sales and touring costs. At 75 percent capacity most of our shows are still not breaking even.

“We’ve also had the constant disruption of snap lockdowns and changing border and density restrictions. This has impacted both consumer and industry confidence.”

The statements from both organisations arrive a week out from the end of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme on March 28, which has been keeping many businesses afloat throughout the pandemic. The Federal Government has indicated no extension to JobKeeper, nor additional support for the arts sector.

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