Australia’s Live Music Industry Details $345M Recovery Plan

Sydney, Australia
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Sydney, Australia

BRISBANE -- Australia’s live entertainment industry has been crushed by the pandemic and the resulting lockdown. But it has a plan.

This week, Live Performance Australia, the umbrella organization for promoters, festival organizers and other companies operating in the live entertainment space, presented a A$345 million ($241 million) proposal to help the sector return to life once the shutdown is waved off.

At its peak, Australia’s concerts industry was a thriving one. In 2018, the sector was worth north of A$2 billion ($1.4 billion) in ticket sales, with more than 26 Aussies attending shows during the year, according to LPA data.

As the territory enters its 12th week of lockdown, those glory days are in the rearview.

It’s “well and truly time for the Federal Government to get behind Australia’s arts and entertainment industry and deliver a comprehensive and properly funded plan so our world-class industry can get back to work,” comments LPA CEO Evelyn Richardson in a statement.

“Unlike some other parts of the economy, a gradual re-opening process is not commercially viable for most of our industry,” she adds. “We can’t re-open venues that only have dozens in the audience. That’s why we will need a sustained and strategic investment by government to get our industry up and running again.”

Earlier in the year, LPA and other music industry advocates and trade bodies pitched a A$650 million ($453 million) emergency package, which was designed to keep artists, professionals and businesses afloat during the crisis, and post-pandemic.

The bailout was never approved.

The new "Rebuild & Recovery Package" includes a proposed A$55 million ($38 million) "See It Live" household e-voucher scheme, drawn up to attract international visitors and get locals back to gigs, when the time comes.

The LPA plan also features a A$90 million ($62 million) "Business Reactivation Fund" which includes capital investments to restart and market productions and tours.

“Australians have always been great supporters of live performance,” adds Richardson, “and buy more tickets to live performance events than all of our major sporting codes combined.”

It will take time, and money, for the live performance industry to rebuild.

Michael Gudinski concurs. The Mushroom Group chairman and Frontier Touring chief says it’s the toughest of times for the touring industry.

“You can’t get any worse,” Gudinski says. “Artists just can’t play. It’ll loosen up, but it’ll take a long time to recover. We went through fires, floods, it’ll be a long road home.” In the meantime, artists are “busting to get out to play.”

The LPA’s two-year recovery plan explores longer-term initiatives to support the sector, including tax incentives for pre-production costs and live music venues; the waiving of visa fees for international touring performers; and a contingency fund to should the industry face another pandemic.

Meanwhile, Australia’s states and territories are beginning to lift some of the toughest social-distancing restrictions, though full-scale concerts and tours are a long way down the line.

Industry professionals say they don't expect a return to full-scale international tours Down Under until March 2021, at the earliest.

Cancelations and postponements due to the health crisis and recent bushfire season have cost the music sector more than $340 million, according to I Lost My Gig, roughly the same sum as the LPA’s rebuild and recovery proposal.

Visit liveperformance.com.au for full details of the LPA plan.

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