There is no roadmap for reopening Victoria’s concert halls.
The state government has announced a roadmap to reopen the state once we reach 80% of double vaccination levels, but we are not there. The current map ends at a density quotient of one person per four square meters for sites, which is a fraction of our normal licensed capacity. A room which would normally hold 1000 people is reduced to 150, a pub with a 200-seat music room could accommodate 20 or 25 people. Most sites cannot open at this level and no site can trade sustainably.
We are on a road to nowhere.
Even at one person per two square meters, we cannot survive. We know this, because one person per two square meters is the maximum we have been allowed during this pandemic. During a brief window in early 2021, when no viruses were circulating in our community, the state government declared that we had reached “Covid Normal”. Crowds of up to 85,000 were welcome at the footy, while concert halls were capped at one by two square metres, around 30% of our normal commercial capacity. Week after week we lost money. We were open, but we were bleeding slowly.
Our venues, and by extension the entire live music and club sector, have been in effective confinement for 19 months. Government support, while very welcome, has never really reflected the reality of our situation. Jobkeeper ended six months ago, but music industry professionals have never returned to work. Promoters, bookers, managers, technicians, roadies, publicists – they fell through the cracks.
As small businesses with liquor licenses, the sites have received piecemeal support, but that support tends to fall off a cliff when everyone comes out of lockdown, even if we don’t. Musicians are rescheduling shows and rescheduling shows, their pay slipping further and further away.
Our sector is resilient. It is populated by passionate, enterprising, risk-taking people who love music. We love the joy and community it brings. But 19 months of disenfranchisement and oblivion have taken their toll. We are already exhausted and disillusioned, and now we are left behind.
What we want, as an industry, is for the Victorian government to recognize how important music is to the soul of our city and state – not just with words, but with actions. We want:
- A step-by-step roadmap to reopen concert halls to 100% capacity.
- Ongoing, venue-wide financial support until we return to 100% capacity.
- Ongoing, large-scale financial support for businesses and music industry professionals until we return to 100% capacity.
- Direct consultation with concert halls in planning the relaunch of the sector.
We want to be able to confidently schedule shows in the iconic venues of this city – venues that will stand long after the temporary outdoor Covid stages are gone.
Melbourne was once known as the live music capital of the world. Music is in our blood. We want music fans to be proud of this city and this state when the dust settles.
That’s what’s at risk here – our cultural life, our community, dancing and singing together, lifting our hearts and voices together, fostering the love and joy of music. We all want it back.
Please sign our petition, share it and let the Victorian government know that the music industry matters to you. Help us get it back.
Save Our Scene is a campaign put together by a collective of Victorian music venues, listed below, calling for government help for the industry. It represents small to medium sized independent music venues across Victoria, including some of the most iconic and longest running music venues in the country.
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