With the one-year anniversary of COVID-inspired restrictions on gathering being introduced, over 100 Victorian venues have signed an open letter calling on the state Government to ease restrictions on capacity.
Published this morning, the open letter looks to bring attention to the imminent closure of many live venues in the state if immediate assistance form the Victorian Government is not forthcoming. With over 100 venues – including the likes of The Corner Hotel, The Espy, The Forum, and The Tote – putting their name to the letter, it outlines a “clear and balanced roadmap for easing restrictions and increasing venue capacities” with the JobKeeper program’s forthcoming end date in plain view.
“Don’t be fooled — Victoria’s live music venues are open, but we are not ok,” the letter begins. “Our live music venues reopened three months ago restricted to less than 30% of regular capacities, with the support of JobKeeper.
“Now JobKeeper is ending, the bills are piling up, and we cannot trade out of it. We call on the Victorian Government to urgently provide a clear and balanced roadmap for easing restrictions so that the live music industry can begin to trade sustainably.”
As the letter continues, it outlines the current restrictions, noting how COVID-safe capacity restrictions have been in place since December, with many venues operating at 30% capacity, resulting in a 70% drop in revenue despite fixed costs remaining constant.
“The reopening of live music venues has seen Victorian artists performing again and our industry’s live music and hospitality workers back in employment,” it continues. “Help us to preserve this vital cultural sector for the long term by increasing venue capacities now.”
As it concludes, the open letter points out the discrepancy between allowing sporting events (such as the recent Australian Open) to continue operating while many venues struggle to operate.
“Victoria’s live music venues have an audience of 110,000+ every Saturday night — more than an AFL grand final,” it notes. “The industry generates tens of thousands of jobs, from musicians and DJs to bookers, promoters, publicists, venue operators, hospitality and bar staff, technicians, security staff and a vast network of ancillary suppliers and contractors.
“Music venues are the critical infrastructure of this industry. If our venues disappear, the live music economy will disappear, and our cultural heritage will go with it. Australian artists will have fewer places to perform, to grow, to find fans.
“Our music venues can not survive without Victorian Government intervention. So please, protect our music venues. Support our artists. Save our scene.”
While the Victorian Government is yet to respond to the letter, the full text – along with the names of the venues who have signed – is available via the Save Our Scene website.