A petition calling on the Queensland government to end restrictions on live music venues has gained over 8,300 signatures in its first 12 hours of launching.
Dubbed the Play Fair petition, it was created by Brisbane venue owners John Collins and Brett Gibson, who run the iconic Fortitude Music Hall and the Triffid.
Hosted on change.org, it points out disparities in restrictions for live sports events and live music venues, calling on the Queensland government to even the playing field.
“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 breakeven, let alone pay artists and other staff,” it reads.
“Due to this unfair double-standard, thousands of people are out of work including band members, bar staff, roadies, lighting specialists, soundies and more. At this rate QLD’s live music scene will shut down in 2021, killing an incredibly strong part of the Australian music scene and the birthplace for many acclaimed artists.”
COVID restrictions in Brisbane were eased earlier this week to include 100 per cent capacity for ticketed venues. But speaking to Brisbane’s 4BC radio, Collins – also Powderfinger‘s longtime bassist – explained why the overruling density quotient means not many venues can actually trade at full capacity.
“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.”
“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.”
As per The Music Network, the petition also received support from Collins’ former bandmate Bernard Fanning, who said “There seems to be no equivalence between the way sport and the live music industry is treated, live entertainment in general”.
At the time of writing, 9,548 people have already signed onto the petition, with less than 500 more needed to reach their 10,000 target.
A number of shows were put on hold when Brisbane entered a snap lockdown late last month, causing another blow to the struggling industry.
In response, the government launched a venue funding program to help businesses recover, offering grants of up to $60,000 for small venues and $80,000 for larger ones.