The team behind Yours & Owls festival has called on government leaders to treat live music events similarly to sporting events, pointing out the differences between gathering restrictions.
The sold-out festival wrapped up last weekend in Wollongong with 14,000 attendees and a lineup including Tones And I, Cosmo’s Midnight and DMA’S. However, a statement shared today (April 22) pointed out the festival did not have insurance that would cover costs should it have to suddenly cancel – it was already postponed twice from June 2020 and New Zealand acts had to abandon the lineup.
A business interruption fund has been urged by many figures from the sector, including Live Performance Australia, APRA AMCOS and Bluesfest director Peter Noble.
“Knowing that we could have been cancelled at any stage due to health orders, no matter how prepared we were or how hard we worked, with no insurance cover, added an incredible layer of stress to this year’s event,” a Yours & Owls spokesperson said.
“Our industry is working within a lottery system right now; no matter how prepared we are, how well we do our jobs; it is down to pure luck as to whether we go ahead successfully or end up in financial ruin.”
Festival organisers argue live music is not being given the same “respect, support and certainty” that is currently awarded to sporting events. Sports stadiums in NSW are currently permitted to be at 100 per cent of their fixed seating capacity.
“Watching the disparity between large-scale sporting events and large-scale music events continues to be confusing and frustrating, to say the least. Being told there is a difference between sports fans screaming, and music fans singing is infuriating,” the spokesperson said.
“Music fans need to be able to access music, the same way sports fans access games.”
The sentiment follows an open letter published in March from more than 100 Victorian music venues, calling for the Andrews government to increase the density quotient for non-seated venues to three people per four square metres. Non-seated indoor venues are currently capped at 75 per cent with a two-square-metre rule, while the Melbourne Cricket Ground is restricted to roughly 75,000 people (or 75 per cent capacity). This number is expected to rise to 85 per cent by ANZAC Day.
“75,000 footy fans can share public transport, turnstiles, toilets, food stalls and exits, but we can’t have 200 people dancing in a club. 75,000 footy fans can cheer on their team at the G, but 1,000 music fans can’t gather in a live music venue and cheer for their favourite band,” the letter read.
“These restrictions mean our venues are operating at around 30 per cent of their licensed capacity, resulting in a 70 per cent drop in revenue whilst fixed costs including rent, insurance, utilities and staff remain static.”
Similar calls to relax density quotients for venues have been made by Live Performance Australia.