Several key music industry bodies have once again called on the Federal Government for assistance, pleading to be shown the same support as other entertainment industries in the country.
Yesterday, Arts Minister Paul Fletcher announced a $50 million extension of the government’s Temporary Interruption Fund for the film and television sector to assist those industries amid uncertainty following the surge in COVID-19 cases throughout the country amid the Omicron wave.
In response, a coalition of music industry and live entertainment key bodies that includes APRA AMCOS, ARIA PPCA, the Australian Festival Association, the ALMBC, LEIF and Live Performance Australia have called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison, state premiers and territory chief ministers to deliver a similar, government-backed insurance scheme for live music and events.
“Since the Omicron wave has hit around the country the live music and events sector has once again been smashed with restrictive health orders and COVID spread leading once again to mass cancellations and rescheduled events,” reads a joint statement released yesterday.
“The Temporary Interruption Fund for the Film industry was today extended by $50m, yet the live music and entertainment industry’s calls over the past 18 months for a similar national scheme have fallen on deaf ears. Australia now lags behind New Zealand, the UK, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia in delivering a solution to this issue.
“Victoria has already delivered an insurance scheme that is now set to be tested by the Omicron-related disruptions, but a national approach is needed if the live music and entertainment industry is going to “ride this wave”, survive and play its role living with the virus.”
It’s true that there have been several calls for a business interruption scheme for the live events industry since the start of the pandemic. In August of last year, many of the organisations who called for an insurance scheme yesterday released a joint statement to the Federal Government, asking them to provide “certainty for the Australian live music and entertainment sector” through such a scheme.
“The Australian live music and entertainment sector has long argued that a government-backed insurance scheme is the missing piece of the puzzle necessary to allow the sector to rebuild, maintain employment and rapidly restore the critical economic and cultural contribution to the nation,” argued LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson at the time.
Similar calls were made by those key bodies and others in April 2021, when Byron Bay festival Bluesfest was cancelled due to a public health order less than 24 hours before it was scheduled to begin. “The music industry is full of viable profitable businesses unable to function because of public health,” Shadow Minister for the Arts Tony Burke said at the time. “Govt has a COVID insurance system for the film industry. Music needs one too. Urgently.”
Bluesfest director Peter Noble had himself backed the implementation of a business interruption insurance policy earlier that year, saying it would “incentivise event presenters to put on events and be protected in not going to the wall” should a COVID-19 outbreak shut down an event at short notice.
Multiple large-scale events have been shut down recently due to the newest wave of COVID-19 cases. Earlier this week, the NSW edition of the Grapevine Gathering wine and music festival was cancelled by organisers just a few days before it was due to take place after the government prohibited singing and dancing by patrons at music festivals in the state.