In what feels like a devastating sense of deja vu for the music industry, Faith No More, Jimmy Barnes and the Hoodoo Gurus have canceled Australian shows ahead of Christmas, among many other acts who have been spooked by the December spike in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the Omicron variant.
Posting to his Facebook page over the weekend, Barnes said he was “absolutely heartbroken” by the outbreak in Newcastle, where his band were due to play three shows in December.
Last week, new Covid infections in the Hunter region accounted for almost a third of cases in New South Wales. The state recorded an unprecedented 3,057 cases on Tuesday.
“In the interest of the health and safety of the community and the upcoming family Christmas vacation, our family and [the venue] Lizotte’s Newcastle have made the difficult decision to postpone all three December shows to a date yet to be confirmed in early January,” Barnes said.
“We urge the local Newcastle community to seriously consider postponing any social events in Newcastle until after Christmas to help keep Christmas family gatherings safe and to help protect their loved ones, the vulnerable and our workers. essential.”
The in-house bookings manager at one of Newcastle’s most popular live music pubs told Guardian Australia it had canceled seven gigs last week, with bands expressing concern they would find themselves on lockdown. out on Christmas Day.
Spencer Scott of the Hamilton Station hotel said he probably should have seen the writing on the wall when he booked two hardcore punk rock bands to perform last weekend. The groups were called Plague Dwellers and I Hate People.
After a potentially infectious case was traced to one of Newcastle’s largest music venues, the Cambridge Hotel, posted on its Facebook page on December 13: “Our staff all went to get tested and once they’ll be negative, we’ll get back to rock n roll.”
The following day, the Cambridge announced that they were postponing their Hiatus Kaiyote show scheduled for the following evening. On December 16, he threw in the towel.
“We’ll wait until after Christmas,” he posted on Facebook.
“We have a role to play in our community and at the moment that means limiting everyone’s risk of exposure…Be safe and see you soon after Christmas.”
On the same day, NSW Health announced that Newcastle’s Lunar Electric Music Festival scheduled for December 18 had been cancelled, under a public health order.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ben Cavenagh, event manager, wrote: “Lots of lost jobs, lost income and just the feeling of going around in circles again. Really tired of this.
Widespread cancellations across Australia
The live music retreat in the Hunter is replicated across the country.
This month, Frontier Touring and Triple M announced the postponement of a Hoodoo Gurus and Dandy Warhols December tour to April 2022.
In Sydney, the past week has seen the cancellation of a number of live music events, including the Bad Vibrations festival, the Loose Ends Christmas party and Christmas Time in the Inner West.
Ticket retailer Oztix told Guardian Australia that more than 300 of its events over the Christmas period – from December 1 to January 7 – had either been rescheduled, postponed or cancelled.
“A trend that we see over and over again that is really concerning is that a member of a band or a tour of a band becomes close or casual contact and has to isolate themselves, forcing the whole tour to s ‘stop,’ a spokesperson for Oztix told the Guardian. .
“So a tour might have already been postponed 2 or 3 times, the band finally start touring, get a few gigs…and they have to cancel. It’s still the real heartbreaker.
Renewed calls for a national insurance scheme
On Monday, a coalition of live music and entertainment industry bodies reiterated a call for the Morrison government and state and territory leaders to urgently implement an insurance scheme backed by government to protect the live performance sector from crippling cancellations.
In November, a Senate inquiry concluded that an insurance guarantee to ensure the sustainability of the industry was not the responsibility of a federal government, because it was the Australian states and territories that asked border closures, confinement and social distancing measures.
Only Victoria has since instituted its own state-run live music insurance product.
The statement from the Live Performance Coalition, which includes copyright agency Apra Amcos, the Australian Recorded Music Industry Association and the Association of Artist Managers, said the emergence of Omicron showed that the pandemic crisis was far from over.
“For an industry that is recovering, investing nationally and working hard to get shows back on stage and on tour, the ongoing threat of future business disruptions is very real,” the statement said.
Although the development in Victoria State has been welcomed, the Live Performance Coalition said a national scheme was urgently needed to reflect the industry’s ‘national economic and employment footprint’ .
The collective I Lost My Gig estimated that on average the Australian live music industry has lost around $64m in revenue each month since March 2020, totaling $880m in lost revenue so far.
A survey conducted by the collective found that 99% of respondents had no income protection or event cancellation insurance.
Support Act, the charity that provides relief services to artists, crews and music workers, has received $40 million from the federal government since May 2020.
During this period, the charity provided financial assistance to 2,540 members totaling $8 million (compared to 389 individuals totaling $1.1 million in 2019) and provided more than 7,000 grants totaling 15, $2 million.
Most of the funding was tied to performing arts workers whose livelihoods have been impacted by Covid-19.