South Australian government launches $10million ‘See It LIVE’ initiative for concerts, Live Music Advisory Council and more

SA premier Peter Malinauskas says it will “provide [a] massive kickstart to the live music industry as they come out of a really difficult couple of years”

South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas has announced the launch of See It LIVE, a $10million government initiative to boost the state’s live music industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Malinauskas detailed the initiative in a press conference yesterday (June 19), where he said it will “provide [a] massive kickstart to the live music industry as they come out of a really difficult couple of years”, as The Industry Observer reports.

In a subsequent tweet, the premier wrote: “We’re investing $10million to deliver measures to bring live music back in SA, as the industry seeks to recover, and musicians strive to get back on stage. We’re determined to see this industry recover, rebuild and get our musicians back to doing what they do best.”

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Conceptualised in tandem with key figures from SA’s live music sector, See It LIVE will comprise a range of funding endeavours drawing from a total fund of $10million. These endeavours will include grants for venues and performers, an insurance scheme for events forced to cancel, funding to mental health charity Support Act, and a specialised Live Music Advisory Council.

Three of the initiative’s programs were launched after Malinauskas’ conference. For starters, there will be 5,000 vouchers – each worth $400 – available to live music venues (including pubs, clubs, small bars, restaurants, cafés and more) to defray production costs for events. A separate grant program – 200 grants of $5,000 each – is open for venues in need of upgrades or renovations, such as stage installation or new equipment.

An additional 130 grants – available in amounts of $5,000, $20,000 and $50,000 – will be available for SA-based promoters and businesses putting together live music events. These should also go towards covering production costs, including artist, crew and technician fees, marketing and promotional costs, and the development of COVID-19 safety plans.

Altogether, $4.25million of the committed $10million will be allocated to these grant and voucher programs. $250,000 will be channelled to Support Act’s wellbeing helpline – described as “a free, confidential phone counselling service that is staffed by psychologists with direct experience of working in music and the arts” – and deliver specialised harm prevention, education and training programs to members of SA’s music industry.

A one-off grant of $500,000 will be allocated to producers of the Royal Adelaide Show, which is held annually across September 3-11. Through a unique partnership with the See It LIVE initiative, live music will be held at the Show for the first time in 20 years. Two concerts will be programmed on each day of the event, hosting performances from primarily local and Indigenous artists.

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Also coming as part of the initiative, the SA government will launch the newly established Live Music And Event Cancellation Fund. It’s not clear exactly how much funding has been set aside for this or when it will be formally launched, but according to the SA Business Hub’s website, promoters will be able to be receive financial aid (between $10,000 and $250,000) if an event is cancelled or postponed as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

The state of SA does not currently impose any restrictions on venues hosting live music events (COVID-19 safety plans are strongly encouraged, though not enforced by government).

Lastly, the initiative will fund the establishment of the Premier’s Live Music Advisory Council, which “will be established to leverage the council’s collective industry connections and expertise to continue revitalising live music in South Australia”. Details on exactly how the new council will operate, as well as the members comprising its board, will be shared in coming months.

“When we think about the last couple of years in COVID,” Malinauskas said in yesterday’s press conference, “I know a lot of emphases is placed on the hospitality industry that’s been doing [it] tough, but we shouldn’t forget that live music has been hit really hard as well.

“We want the winter months and the spring months in South Australia to be a hotbed of live music for both musos and venues, to give them a bit of a boost to make sure that the recovery out of COVID remains strong.”

Echoing the sentiment was Andrea Michaels, SA’s Arts Minister, who added: “Through these grants we hope to see a whole new calendar of live gigs and festivals during 2022 and 2023, offering audiences a great opportunity to get along to a music performance. Music events in venues, laneways, and public spaces will enrich our state and attract visitors boosting local businesses.”

The See It LIVE initiative joins similar efforts from other Australian states, including the Performing Arts Relaunch program in NSW (which boasts a total funding pool of $210million), Getting The Show Back On The Road+ in WA (the total amount of funding for which is indeterminate, though it did receive a $10million boost in March), VIC’s On The Road Again ($5million), Live Music Restart ($20million) and Always Live initiatives, and Queensland’s Live Music Venue Support Program.

Additionally, the Federal Government has committed $200million to its Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) scheme, and $20million in funding to Support Act.

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