City News

Live music venues call for a lifeline

Oxford Art Factory is amongst the venues calling for a lifeline from the NSW government. Photo: Jack Toohey photography

By ALLISON HORE

More than sixty live music venues around NSW have come together to launch a petition calling on the NSW government to provide support to the state’s live music industry.

The 61 independent music venues from across New South Wales launched the petition today as part of their Save Our Stages campaign. Iconic Sydney venues which have got on board with the campaign include the 107 Projects in Redfern, The Metro Theatre, Enmore Theatre, The Factory Theatre and the Oxford Art Factory. 

“Without NSW Government intervention, many of our favourite venues will soon be forced to close and with them, tens of thousands of jobs will be lost,” the venues say in their open letter. 

The live music industry in NSW employs an estimated 23,000 people and contributes around $3.6 billion to the state’s economy. 

However, COVID-19 safety measures and social distancing restrictions have led the venues to operate under reduced capacities and with higher staff overheads. This comes after the city’s live music scene had already taken a serious blow as a result of the now-reversed lock out laws.

According to a Music NSW survey of just 47 music venues, over $70 million in earnings is estimated to have been lost in just six months. 85 percent of the surveyed venues said they predicted shut down within six to nine months if the situation has not improved. 

Live music venues in other states have also felt the heat from COVID-19 restrictions, however venues in Queensland and Victoria have been offered lifelines by their governments. Last week the Victorian government announced they’d be handing out $13 million in funding to live music venues to keep them afloat after months of shutdowns. In Queensland, $360,000 has been made available for 18 venues as part of the Live Music Venue support program. 

Venues in NSW would like to see similar support.

“The Queensland and Victorian Governments have committed millions of dollars in support to their venues, we now look to the NSW Government to show their support,” said CEO and Founder of the Oxford Art Factory, Mark Gerber.

Save Our Stages says the campaign is about more than just live music, and that venues “build community, boost the economy, improve wellbeing, and drive tourism. And importantly, they provide artists with places to share their music with fans and find new audiences”

As part of the NSW Government’s 24-hour economic strategy, hundreds of local artists will be given the opportunity to perform at 1000 COVID-safe live music gigs across the state. The City of Sydney and the state government hope that these outdoor live shows will bring people back into the city and reinvigorate the CBD’s plummeting economy for the summer.

But the independent venues which are traditionally the home of these acts will not see support as they are not government-funded.

“If supported to survive, the NSW live music industry will be able to quickly reboot a vast network of jobs and ancillary businesses, rebuild communities and restore the social confidence crucial to a dynamic economy,” said Mr. Gerber.

A full list of venues behind the campaign and the petition can be found on the Save Our Stages website. 

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