As Ban on Mass Gatherings Comes Into Effect, Australia’s Live Biz Faces ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

Sydney, Australia
Buena Vista Images/Getty Images

Sydney, Australia

BRISBANE - While the coronavirus pandemic marches on, Australia’s live performance sector is facing a severe blow which could see more than half a billion dollars stripped from the industry and thousands of jobs lost.

That’s the reality check presented by trade body Live Performance Australia as the country enters a new phase in its efforts to stop the spread of the disease.

The live performance industry is “on the frontline of the public health war on coronavirus,” says LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson in an update posted Monday, “and needs the full support of government if it is to have any chance of coming through the other side of this unprecedented crisis period.”

Richardson and other key entertainment and culture organizations took part in an industry roundtable today (March 16) with the Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, to talk emergency funding support for workers and companies in the sector.

Speaking ahead of that session, Richardson requested government supply “immediate and targeted” financial assistance, warning that hundreds of performing arts and production companies and tens of thousands of industry professionals were facing tough times due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Australia’s live music sector, like elsewhere, is under severe downward pressure as the novel coronavirus unravels all the best-laid concert plans.

The launch of a new campaign, I Lost My Gig, launched Saturday by the Australian Music Industry Network and the Australian Festivals Association, found that, in just 48 hours, more than A$47 million worth of income was lost to small-to-medium businesses and independent contractors who’ve had jobs canceled across the creative industries.

An estimated 20,000 work opportunities have been cancelled due to the health crisis, impacting over 190,000 people.

The situation can only go downhill. On Monday, the Australian government activated enforceable new rules which ban organized gatherings of 500 or more people, and apply strict quarantine rules on any foreign nationals entering the country. It remains unclear for how long these restrictions will remain in place.

“The ripple effect will only continue as more events, conferences, festivals and shows are canceled in coming weeks,” explains a spokesperson for ILMG.

Australia has recorded at least five deaths which are attributed to COVID-19, and the numbers of infected has raced past 300.

As the nation grapples with the outbreak, a growing list of high-profile music events have been postponed or canceled. The celebrated Byron Bay Bluesfest, an annual Easter pilgrimage on the east cost which typically gathers about 125,000 music fans and hosts 200 performances, was officially scrapped on Monday. It follows the cancelation of Download Festival, a Miley Cyrus-headlined bushfire benefit concert and the Formula One Grand Prix in Melbourne, which was meant to host a concert by Robbie Williams.



The Biz premium subscriber content has moved to

To simplify subscriber access, we have temporarily disabled the password requirement.