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Inconsistent capacity rules between entertainment and sport inflict further damage on live music

Inconsistent capacity rules between entertainment and sport inflict further damage on live music
May 4, 2021

Live music and events across Australia are being impacted by inconsistent capacity limits with concern that while sporting venues can now operate at full - or near-full - capacity, entertainment spaces are still largely restricted.

In Brisbane, a petition launched by venue owners Brett Gibson and John Collins is calling on the Queensland Government to ‘Play Fair’ with the live music sector, generating over 18,500 signatures.

Collins, who operates Brsibane’s Triffid club, while the pair run the Fortitude Music Hall, explains “it’s grossly unfair that it’s OK for 50,000 people to attend the State of Origin match at the Suncorp Stadium but music venues like ours are only running on 30% capacity because of heavy social distancing rules,” Collins said, a big sports fan himself.

The Fair Play - Let Live Music Live campaign is not only addressing the matter of inconsistent crowd size rules are not the only challenges to be addressed, but is also calling on the Queensland Government to offer exemptions to musicians and their touring entourages if there is a state border closure.

Amid current restrictions, a report on The Music Network website this week says that Brisbane and Perth’s live sectors are “teetering on the edge of existence”

At a music industry gathering late last week, Collins sated “we might not be here in six months (and) I know other venues are struggling with these conditions as we are.”

Last month the Queensland Government announced a round of grants to eligible music venues to provide $80,000 to larger ones (capacity of over 500) and up to $60,000 for smaller operations.

The funding was gratefully acknowledged by the sector, but the Triffid is reported to have lost $75,000 in just one weekend from cancelled sold-out shows.

Brisbane Lord Mayor, Adrian Schrinner backed the call to allow music venues to return to 100% capacity and abandon the current two square metre rule that keeps them operating at around 30%.

Slamming the “double standard” of crowd restrictions between sport and live music events, Lord Mayor Schrinner stated “we can see big venues like Suncorp or the Gabba filled up with 50,000 people or 40,000 people.

“What we’re asking for (now) is just some fair rules (for the music sector which) is being strangled and it is teetering on the edge of existence.”

Collins also urged the Queensland Government to reconsider a proposal where his venues would be divided into three distinct zones to make contact tracing easier, which he claimed “wasn’t looked at” by Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young.

A similar call is being made in Perth, which has endured recent snap lockdowns but which, as of last weekend, is allowing theatres, concert halls, cinemas, comedy lounges and performing arts centres with fixed seating to operate at 100% capacity.

The Australian Hotels Association WA said that the hospitality sector as a whole lost $150 million over the three-day ANZAC Day weekend lockdown.

While hospitality venues are expected to benefit from a compensation package from the Western Australian Government, live music venues had to bear costs of show cancellations.

‘Double standards’ between sport and entertainment have also been slammed in Victoria, Music Victoria is disputing the announcement that Victoria’s music venues are back trading at 100% capacity.

While, as of 9th April, the Victorian Government announced it was lifting restrictions and would allow 100% seated indoor and outdoor capacity for entertainment, cultural and sporting venues up to a maximum of 1,000 patrons per space, Music Victoria Chief Executive, Simone Schinkel pointed out the new guidelines “have had little to no positive impact on our industry”.

Schinkel advised “while the first line of the announcement may read that we are back to 100% of total capacity - the devil is in the detail.”

The one person per 2 square metre rule still applies to most live music venues which are non-seated, which equates to them operating at about 30% capacity and a 75% drop in income.

Events or venues with over 1,000 patrons have to go through a separate approval process with the Public Events Framework, a complex and, for many operators, confusing process.

Schinkel added “we have communicated our industry’s grave concerns around these restrictions to the Department of Health, and disappointingly, they have not yet introduced any changes to remedy the situation.

“We are continuing to have these discussions with them, in order to bring about the changes our live industry needs to be operating at optimum levels.”

Click here to access the Fair Play - Let Live Music Live campaign petition.

Main image shows the Fortitude Music Hall.

Related Articles

16th April 2021 - Powderfinger bandmates lead call condemning Queensland Government’s ‘double standard’ on venue capacities for sport and live music

2nd April 2021 - Save Victorian Events highlight Bluesfest cancellation as confirmation of need for Governments to back event cancellation insurance

2nd April 2021 - Bluesfest cancellation to cost more than $10 million in losses

1st April 2021 - LPA calls for emergency Business Interruption Fund after government directive shuts down Bluesfest

14th April 2021 - Victorian Parliamentary inquiry into tourism and events support hears plea to save ‘industry in crisis’

31st March 2021 - MYOB survey reveals the benefits of live art events to the hospitality sector

30th March 2021 - Brisbane Coronavirus outbreak causing massive uncertainty for tourism and events over Easter

30th March 2021 - Federal Government accused of ‘abandoning’ events industry as JobKeeper ends

30th March 2021 - Save Victorian Events calls for Industry Taskforce

25th March 2021 - Federal Government announces $135 million in funding for live entertainment

25th March 2021 - Live performance and entertainment bodies welcome Federal Government’s funding extension

23rd March 2021 - Entertainment and Live Performance sector representatives takes argument for industry support to Canberra

22nd March 2021 - Australian Live Music Business Council calls on government to ease COVID restrictions on venues

22nd March 2021 - Inaugural WA Music Week delivers diverse program across Perth venues

19th March 2021 - Live Performance Australia calls for 100% capacity in all live entertainment venues

19th March 2021 - Event industry suppliers circle Victorian Parliament in protest at lack of state government support

17th March 2021 - New COVIDSafe system launched specifically for live entertainment industry

3rd March 2021 - Planned Brisbane Live development could be a 2032 Olympics venue

22nd February 2021 - Live Performance Australia calls for targeted JobSaver action to prevent further collapse of the arts and entertainment industry

17th February 2021 - myvenue point of sale technology backs COVIDSafe live music events

14th February 2021 - ASM Global’s Harvey Lister looks to ‘full revival’ of live events in 2022

8th January 2021 - Live performance paused in Brisbane as Queensland Premier announces city-wide lockdown

30th November 2020 - Coopers Brewery helps live music sector rebound from COVID-19

5th November 2020 - Save Our Stages NSW calls on public to help save the state’s live music industry

23rd October 2020 - Survey shows over 400 Australian Live Music Businesses face imminent closure

20th September 2020 - Live music venues to benefit industry from $13 million Victorian Government support package

5th August 2019 - Fortitude Music Hall opens in Brisbane

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