Australia’s 2020 Helpmann Awards Cancelled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Sydney, Australia
Marco Simoni/Getty Images

Sydney Opera House and waterfront in Sydney, Australia.

The 2020 Helpmann Awards, the Australian live industry’s premier awards ceremony, has been scrapped due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Organized by Live Performance Australia, the Helpmanns were established in 2001, and in 2018 expanded its program into a two-evening series of events.

In a statement issued Tuesday (March 31), LPA announced the show would not go on this year.

“Due to restrictions on public gatherings, it was simply not feasible to proceed with our planning for the 2020 Helpmann Awards,” said LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson.
“While we are deeply disappointed to make this decision, we have a wider responsibility to prioritise the health and welfare of our staff, industry and the Australian community to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”

Last year’s 19th annual event was held over two nights in July at the Arts Centre Melbourne, with awards handed out for best international contemporary concert best Australian contemporary concert, best contemporary music festival and more. Also, Paul Kelly was on hand to present Kev Carmody with the prestigious JC Williamson Award, recognizing outstanding contribution to the live performance industry.

The Helpmann Awards cancellation follows the federal government’s announcement of tighter restrictions on movement which now ban gatherings of more than two, down from 10. Earlier, the government ordered the closure of all live music venues, clubs, pubs, festivals, almost every space where Australians meet and socialize.

LPA has actively engaged with government in recent days and weeks, calling for a A$650 million emergency bailout package for the live entertainment space.

“It is also the case that we need to focus on the survival of our live performance industry which has been devastated by the COVID-19 forced shutdowns,” adds Richardson, explaining the decision to skip the Helpmanns in 2020.

“Our number one priority right now is to secure more government support for the hundreds of thousands of people across our industry who have lost income and work as a result of the shutdowns."

Richardson continues, "We also want to make sure our industry is in the best position it can be to recover once the public health crisis passes, and bring back to millions of Australians the pleasure of live theatre and music presented by some of the world’s best creative talent."

According to I Lost My Gig, an online service set up to track event cancellations and postponements across Australia and New Zealand, more than A$316 million has been lost to the current crisis.