Victorian live sector urges state government to ease restrictions and “bring Melbourne back to life”

"We, therefore, see no reason for the imposition of blanket reduced capacities and other restrictions across all environments as we emerge from this extended lock-down"

A host of signatories from Victoria’s live sector have banded together to pen an open letter to the state’s Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, pleading to help “bring Melbourne back to life”.

Over 200 figures from the live music, arts, hospitality and entertainment industries signed onto the letter, addressing the CHO as well as Acting Premier James Merlino and Ministers Martin Foley, Martin Pakula and Danny Pearson.

In it, they urge the government to work with the sector to help aid its economic recovery and return to sustainable levels of trading following Melbourne’s two-week lockdown, which ended last night (June 10).

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“Please let us work together to bring Melbourne back to life!,” it reads. “The repeated lockdowns, coupled with a very slow return to viable venue operational capacities, are having a crippling long-term effect and have brought our industries to the brink of collapse.”

“We appreciate the need to respect epidemiological science and the need for the occasional imposition of restrictions. However, we urge you to consider the application of the science in sanctioning a return to the levels of business operations that applied immediately prior to the reimposition of blanket restrictions on Thursday 29 May,” it continues.

With businesses in the sector already approved for a COVID-safe mode of operation and compliance, the letter goes on to state that “We, therefore, see no reason for the imposition of blanket reduced capacities and other restrictions across all environments as we emerge from this extended lock-down”.

It also outlines the difficulty of maintaining sustainable operations without funding support such as JobKeeper, saying “a delayed reactivation will erode the already tenuous financial viability of our businesses”.

“Please permit us to work with Victorian Health to assist in managing the Covid-19 Pandemic, whilst still keeping the true spirit of Melbourne alive!”

Read the full letter here.

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Signatories include Mushroom Group CEO Matt Gudinski, Secret Sounds’ co-CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco, Live Nation General Manager Damian Costin, Live Performance Australia (LPA) CEO Evelyn Richardson and Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel, as well as a long list of artists, venue owners, ticketing companies, band managers, booking agents and more.

Speaking to The Music yesterday (June 10), Music Victoria’s Schinkel said the live sector is “calling for all the work that we’ve done over the past 18 months – to be COVID compliant, to have discussions with Health, to get them to understand how our businesses work – are taken into consideration as we emerge out of this lockdown”.

Elsewhere, LPA’s Richardson told The Music Network: “Companies have lost millions of dollars, hundreds of performances have been cancelled, staff have been stood down, regional tours within Victoria and interstate have been disrupted or now won’t go ahead”.

“This is a massive blow for an industry only just getting back on its feet. Like many other industries, including hospitality and cinema, reopening at reduced capacity is not financially viable.”

Victoria’s two-week lockdown has ended, but there are still a number of restrictions in place. At the moment, metropolitan Melbourne indoor non-seated entertainment venues are closed, while indoor fixed seated entertainment venues are open at up to 25 per cent of seated capacity, with a maximum of 50 people per venue.

Outdoor fixed seated entertainment can have up to 50 per cent seated capacity, with a maximum of 100 people per venue.

The State Government announced a $250million support package back in May for small and medium-szied businesses affected by the snap lockdown. The Federal Government’s JobKeeper initiative ended in March, despite pleas from the sector for ongoing targeted assistance.

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