The financial impact of COVID-19 has forced the permanent closure of Sydney music venue The Newsagency.
Owner Alison Avron told NME Australia today (August 20) that she had initially received COVID relief from her landlord after shutting the venue’s doors at the start of the pandemic, but a proposed change to her current rental agreement sparked negotiations.
“They’d given me two options in COVID times,” said Avron. “’You can either vacate or you can sign a three-year lease’, for nearly double my rent.”
Friday will be her last day of trading.
This comes after five months of closure for The Newsagency, which only reopened to the public at the start of August. During this period, Avron said “we lost 97 per cent of our income”.
“It’s a frustrating thing,” she said. “I don’t really want to go into these negotiations in the middle of a pandemic, I would rather have stayed in the same place and at least have negotiated rent reduction and increased overtime.”
Avron initially opened The Newsagency in Marrickville eight years ago, before relocating to Annandale in 2017. The venue has hosted a bevy of musicians and comedians over the years, including Sam Campbell and Aaron Chen.
Avron made the venue’s closure public on Facebook yesterday, and says she has been moved by the response.
“The outpouring of love and support and the kind words people are saying about me personally, it’s so overwhelming,” she said.
Live music venues across the country are feeling the pinch under current COVID restrictions. In June, a survey of 65 venues, conducted by Music Victoria and other industry bodies, had found 42 per cent of operators feared they would have to close their doors permanently without any government support, or if they were not able to open at full capacity by the year’s end.
That same month, 115 Victorian venues banded together for the Save Our Scene petition, pleading for the state government to provide assistance for struggling venues. The Victorian government announced a $15million grants program four weeks later.
Other funding programs and grants designed to give venues a lifeline include Western Australia’s $76million arts “recovery package”, Queensland’s $22.5million arts relief fund and South Australia’s $1million aid package, $300,000 of which was given to local music hub, The Gov.
The Federal Government also announced their Live Music Australia program earlier this month, a $20million initiative offering grants to small and medium venues across the country.