The Victorian government in Australia has announced a A$13m (£7.3m/€8m/$9.4m) support package to help the live events industry to reopen with COVIDSafe measures once restrictions are lifted.

Victorian Arts Minister Martin Foley said initial grants totalling Aor$9m would be offered to 106 live music venues to keep their businesses going and cover overhead costs until they could safely reopen.

Venues including Northcote Social Club, Queenscliff’s Blues Train and Castlemaine’s Theatre Royal will share in grants in the first tranche of the Victorian Live Music Venues program.

The grants will support venues, which have been closed since March, to cover urgent overheads and put COVIDSafe measures in place. They will also assist venues to reopen and host events, providing employment opportunities for artists, promoters, technicians and more, offsetting costs while patron caps are in place.

Under Victoria’s roadmaps for reopening, indoor live music venues can reopen at the Last Step with density quotients and patron caps in place. Patron caps will be lifted when the state moves to COVID Normal.

Foley said: “Our music scene is much loved across the state and envied the world over. This support will protect our grassroots venues, save jobs and music businesses, and keep local music playing well beyond this pandemic.”

In addition, musicians, music businesses and music industry workers will also receive support through a series of new initiatives.

A new grants program, the Victorian Music Industry Recovery program, will offer grants between A$4,000 and A$50,000 to support artists, managers, promoters, bookers, road crew and other workers to keep creating new music, undertake professional and business development activities and develop new COVIDSafe ways of working.

The final part of the package is a $1.2m grant to 10 music organisations and peak bodies to deliver business development programs to industry professionals.

Foley said: “We will be strongly encouraging all local government areas to move quickly once that amendment has happened, to protect not just iconic local venues but live music precincts wherever they might be across the state.

“We want to make sure that in this COVID shutdown period, that venues are not at risk and that councils are given the tools to make sure that live music venues can keep pumping out rock and roll and keep pumping out music for many years to come.”

Image: Martin FischAttribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)