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News |  22 Feb 2021 17:11 |  By RnMTeam

Operators alerts for more job losses ahead for Australian live music industry

MUMBAI: Fewer than half of Australia’s live performance companies believe they will be back to pre-Covid-19 business activity within two years, a new survey has revealed.

The majority of live entertainment operators estimate it will take until 2025 to recover from the snap shutdowns and audience restrictions that have plagued the industry for almost a year.

The sector’s peak body, Live Performance Australia, surveyed its 300-plus members, 90% of whom said they are still reliant on the jobkeeper wage subsidy to hold on to staff or continue operating.

One third of LPA’s members who responded to the survey said they will have to make staff redundant once jobkeeper ends on 28 March.

LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, said the findings were stark and disturbing.

“The pandemic has had a devastating impact on live entertainment. There’s an estimated $24bn of lost economic output and $11bn lost in industry value,” she told the Guardian.

Almost 80,000 jobs in the live performance sector have been lost over the past 10 months.

Richardson said while the Australian Taxation Office has reported that 90% of the 1.3m jobs lost across the economy have been replaced, this was not reflective of what was happening in the live performance industry.

“Live entertainment remains largely at a standstill. We’re slowly getting shows back, but under heavy restrictions, and this current business activity is not sustainable,” she said.

LPA has been in communication with Treasury and the federal arts minister, Paul Fletcher, lobbying for continued targeted financial support until the end of 2021.

Last week more than 3,500 live music professionals signed an open letter to Fletcher, the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, and the prime minister, Scott Morrison, calling on the federal government to extend jobkeeper beyond the 28 March deadline for those working in the entertainment sector.

Australia’s music rights organisation, Apra Amcos, said live music was still operating at 4% of pre-Covid levels.

Richardson said the health of the live music sector continued to suffer because its lifeblood – interstate and international touring and festivals – had been cut off due to state border closures and bans on international visitors.

“We can’t activate our festivals and our concerts, we’ve got limited restrictions and what we’re saying is that live outdoor music events should [operate under the same guidelines] as sport and certainly be moving towards 100% capacity, obviously with Covid-safe plans in place,” she said. “But at the moment there is no coherency to the restriction placed on our industry. We’re effectively working with eight sovereign nations.

“But when there’s a lockdown in one city, like we saw with Melbourne last week, there’s a flow-on effect to other cities and states.

“Some are saying the economy is roaring back but for us, with the vaccine rollout looking like it’s going to take quite some time, we’re still trying to work with density restrictions and snap closures … and we certainly can’t see the prospect of 100% capacity [audiences] until at least next spring.”