The activation of LEIF can't come soon enough. The nationwide shutdown has brought Australia’s cultural, creative and sports industries to the brink.
Across those fields are some 175,000 employees, the majority of whom are casual or part time. “Many of those are furloughed and many have lost their jobs in the process," Sutherland tells Billboard. Those industries generate an estimated $150 billion to the Australian economy, according to data published by The Bureau of Communications and Arts Research.
As the live entertainment sector makes its first steps out hibernation, the Forum will develop industry standard guidelines for cleaning and sanitization, crowd management, social distancing, health monitoring and contact tracing.
The goal is to reassure government and to win back fans.
“We need a clear roadmap to get our industry back to work, while playing a bigger role in the post COVID-19 economic recovery of our nation,” comments Sutherland.
The LEIF executive committee boasts the biggest names in concerts and sports alongside leading industry associations, including Live Performance Australia, Venue Management Association and the Australian Festivals Association.
Fierce rivals Frontier Touring and Live Nation have put aside their differences to present this united front, and they’re joined by TEG (owner of Ticketek), Chugg Entertainment, AEG and others.
“With the industry on its knees, they’ve all identified the need to come together and to find a way through together,” Sutherland tells Billboard. “Some are competitors in ordinary circumstances, but today they’re pooling their resources and getting a common focus on how we can bring the crowds back.”
At this stage, “our primary focus is how we build confidence to develop a COVIDsafe environment for events in our venues,” he adds.
Sutherland putting his hand up and being available for this task is a huge boost, says Roger Field, CEO of Live Nation Australasia. “He’ll really help us cut through to be clear that there’s one message, one objective and one united industry in what we’re trying to achieve.”
Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG, applauds Australia's concert promoters for putting aside their competitive instincts.
“So many jobs depend on us,” he explains. “We need to get our voice out there and go to governments at state and federal level with coherent plans for a COVIDsafe environment going forward.”
LEIF is announced just days after Live Performance Australia presented a A$325 million recovery plan to federal government which, so far, has not been approved. Sources say the federal government is working on an assistance package for the entertainment industry, though details have yet to be revealed.
According to I Lost My Gig, more than A$340 million has been lost due to postponements and cancelations of shows and gigs, a sum that will continue to grow the longer the lockdown continues.