Live Performance Australia, the country’s arts and entertainment peak body, has called on all Australian states and territories to move towards allowing all live entertainment venues to operate at 100 per cent capacity.
The organisation has asked other areas to follow in the footsteps of Queensland, the first state to lift restrictions and allow indoor theatres and venues to operate at maximum capacity. In a media release issued today (March 19), LPA advocated for all states and territories to outline the timeframe for its indoor venues returning to 100 per cent capacity.
“We’ve nearly reached 75 percent audience capacity indoors across the country with some shows at 85+ percent and Queensland at 100 percent,” commented LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.
“We’re now calling on all states and territories to follow the lead of Queensland and open all indoor theatre venues to 100 percent capacity. We also need to review the one person per two square metre rule.
“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 went on to say that inconsistencies between states regarding venue capacity was impeding business recovery, and presenting challenges for touring. Live Performance Australia, she said, was concerned sport and cultural events were being treated differently to live music, despite venue settings being “broadly the same”.
“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.”
LPA’s calls for states to increase venue capacities comes after over 200 venues in Victoria called on the state government to ease restrictions earlier this week.
In an open letter coordinated by Save Our Scenes, representatives from venues such as The Espy, Corner Hotel, Northcote Social Club and Forum Theatre requested the easing of density restrictions.
“Following nine months of closure, Victoria’s live music venues recommenced operating in December 2020 with COVID safe capacity restrictions in place, based on a density quotient of 1 person per 2sqm,” the letter reads.
“These restrictions mean our venues are operating at around 30 per cent of their licensed capacity, resulting in a 70 per cent drop in revenue whilst fixed costs including rent, insurance, utilities and staff remain static.”
Earlier today, it was announced that Sydney venue Carriageworks has been granted a Public Health Order exemption for its upcoming Sydney Writers Festival. The exemption means Carriageworks will be allowed to run festival events at 100% capacity, with patrons “seated in line with current NSW Public Health regulations”.
In addition to increasing venue capacities, LPA has also asked states and territories to guarantee that interstate borders will remain open given that the national COVID-19 vaccination program has begun to roll out.
“20 March marks one year since the first domestic border closed in Australia. Monday marked the first day in 12 months that all domestic borders were open. We need to keep them open,” Richardson said.