Music Victoria says recent easing of restrictions has had “little to no positive impact on our industry”

The organisation has called on the Department of Health to help remedy the situation

Music Victoria have shared an open letter calling for the State Government and Department of Health to work with the organisation to help remedy what they say are still untenable restrictions for live venues.

Penned by CEO Simone Schinkel, the statement identifies two key issues with Victoria’s recent move to allowing 100 per cent of seated indoor and outdoor capacity for entertainment venues as of April 9.

The letter acknowledges that a density quotient of one person per two square metres remains in place, equating to some venues operating at approximately 30% of their usual capacity. Secondly, it points out that venues with over 1000 patrons are required to go through an approval process with the Public Events Framework.

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With these issued combined, Music Victoria say that the recent easing of restrictions has had “little to no positive impact on our industry”.

“We have communicated our industry’s grave concerns around these restrictions to the Department of Health (DH), and disappointingly, they have not yet introduced any changes to remedy the situation,” reads the letter.

“We are continuing to have these discussions with them, in order to bring about the changes our live industry needs to be operating at optimum levels. We want to make the current situation clear to those inside the industry and to those who just care about music more generally. We share your absolute and total frustration with the current situation and are working to do all that we can to make it change.”

Music Victoria has called on community members to help the cause by expressing their concern for the state of live music to their local members, and making a submission to the Inquiry into the Impact of Covid-19 on Events and Tourism – the submission closing date is today (April 16).

Similar frustrations have been mounting in Queensland, where a petition calling on the state government to ease restrictions garnered 8,300 signatures in its first 12 hours – it’s currently at over 11,000 signees.

Dubbed the Play Fair petition, it was launched by Brisbane venue owners John Collins and Brett Gibson, who run the iconic Fortitude Music Hall and Triffid venues, and points to the disparity in rules between sporting events and live music.

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“While strict rules have been relaxed for Suncorp Stadium to host State of Origin with 50,000 people packed in, music venues are STILL only allowed to operate at a reduced capacity with heavy social distancing restrictions. Venues can’t even break even, let alone pay artists and other staff,” the petition reads.

Speaking to Brisbane’s 4BC Radio, Collins – also a founding member of Powderfinger – also expressed dissatisfaction at the density quotient model currently in place in venues across the state.

“At the moment we’re pretty much where we were in December in terms of capacity, because the overarching guide to our regulations in the one person per two square metres,” Collins explained.

“We need a figure, 30 per cent doesn’t cut it,” he said. “It’s not about making money, it’s about not going broke.”

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