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LPA slams NSW government over COVID response as Royal Albert Hall to host closed-door series

Live Performance Australia has slated the NSW government for “woeful” response to COVID-19’s impact on the cultural sector, while Royal Albert Hall is set to host its first closed-door concert and ShowTix4U unveils a new streaming service…

NSW’s cultural sector

Live Performance Australia (LPA) has slammed the New South Wales (NSW) government for its supposed lack of action to halt the “destruction” of its cultural sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The peak body for Australia’s live performance industry highlighted the “very significant danger” to performing arts centres and cultural venues around the country after it was announced that Australia’s largest multi-arts centre, Carriageworks (pictured), has been placed in voluntary administration.

LPA chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, has called on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to “step up.”

She added: “When cultural ministers from all of our state and territory governments met in late March, we set out very clearly for them the potential devastation of our cultural sector because of COVID-19’s impact on venues and cultural spaces.

“Some of our state governments have put in place targeted measures to support our cultural industries, but the response so far from both NSW and the Commonwealth has been woeful.

“Sadly, the announcement that Carriageworks is in voluntary administration is likely to be the first of many as our performing arts companies grapple with the severe financial impact of COVID-19 on their revenues.

“Our world-class cultural industry was the first to be shutdown by COVID-19 and will be one of the last to recover, although for all the talk from the Federal Government of helping people across the bridge to the other side of the pandemic, we see precious little evidence of that support for our cultural sector.”

In March, LPA said the arts and live industry in Australia needed A$850m in targeted support measures in order to survive.

Since then, the Australian government committed A$27m in funding to support regional arts, First Nations arts and music charity Support Act.

In addition, the Arts Council announced its four-year funding for the sector, with 144 arts organisations to receive a share of A$31.7m per annum between 2021-24 following an application process completed before the Covid-19 outbreak. The Council has also announced it is directing approximately A$5m to a Resilience Fund to provide immediate relief through grants to the Australian arts sector.

However, the LPA said the absence of any additional funding from government for 2021-24 and decision to extend some groups’ grants by an extra year has had the knock-on effect of other organisations seeing their grants cut or removed entirely.

Musical streaming service

Music Theatre International (MTI), online ticketing firm ShowTix4U and technology provider Broadway Media have teamed up to launch a new streaming service.

Under the new partnerships, organisations will now be able to stream live musicals, sell tickets to events, capture and stream performances and have royalties automatically paid via one solution.

The service on ShowTix4U.com is set to launch in the next six weeks and allows educational, community, and regional organisations to incorporate live streaming and Video-On-Demand capabilities.

Steel Wallis, founder of ShowTix4U, said: “While streaming will never be a replacement for the live event experience, this platform is a valuable tool for introducing the arts to an expanded audience.”

The platform, initially available throughout North America, will be available for shows, special events, conferences, workshops and readings. Organisations can now give their audience members access to approved past and present productions while adding a new revenue stream.

John Prignano, senior operations officer and director of development and education, MTI, said: “The current health crisis has made licensing and performing shows in the traditional manner extremely difficult. After consulting with members of the author community, we got together with our friends and partners at ShowTix4U and Broadway Media to provide a holistic solution for theatres to perform an MTI show and still share it with their audiences.

“We’re living in a new world and the only way the art form we all love so much will survive and thrive is through innovation. We hope this makes a difference to the thousands of theatres we serve around the world.”

Royal Albert Hall

Katherine Jenkins is set to become the first artist to perform to an empty Royal Albert Hall in a performance that will be streamed live via YouTube.

The 30-minute concert by the Welsh mezzo-soprano will mark the VE Day 75th anniversary on this week’s UK bank holiday – May 8.

It will be the first time in the 5,272-capacity London venue’s 150-year history that it will host a concert behind closed doors.

The event, the first of the #RoyalAlbertHome series, is in support of the Royal Albert Hall’s fundraising appeal and SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s Emergency Response Fund. It can also be viewed via the Albert Hall website.

During the COVID-19 stay-at-home measures, Jenkins has been performing lockdown concerts from her home, which have attracted two million streams to date.

Image: Carriageworks