Live Performance Australia (LPA), the peak body for the country’s live performance industry, has proposed a new fund to protect the sector from further COVID-19 lockdowns and financial losses as theatres and events reopen.

The industry body has developed the plan for a Business Interruption Fund (BIF) to provide assurance against the risk of disruption to live performance productions or events due to the reimposition of public health restrictions to manage COVID-19 outbreaks.

The proposed fund will aim to help increase industry confidence to reactivate live events, by providing indemnification for costs if a live event is cancelled, postponed, or negatively affected by the reintroduction of government restrictions, or a slower than anticipated easing of government restrictions.

The industry faced significant insurance premiums for events prior to COVID-19. These premiums are now increasing, but producers and promoters are also not able to insure against COVID-19 impacts now that it is a known risk.

LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson said significant commercial risks were involved with scheduling new events or theatre seasons given the possibility of targeted public health restrictions being reimposed.

She said: “The live performance industry was the first to be completely shut down by public health restrictions, and remains among the most vulnerable to future closure due to new outbreaks.

“Live performance businesses have little or no financial reserves to survive another shutdown, and this risk will hold back the industry’s reactivation and its contribution to our economic recovery.”

The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on the live performance industry during 2020, and while Australia has been ahead of the curve in reopening businesses, venues and events, there will continue to be the possibility of restrictions or shutdowns in the future until such time as a vaccine is widely available and taken up.

LPA’s fund plan has been shared with the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Only Western Australia currently has a business interruption scheme in place.

The LPA proposal would assist live event promoters and theatre producers that are impacted by a range of scenarios and would solely cover costs or losses arising from COVID-related issues. The level of support would be capped and participants in the scheme would be required to pay a fee calculated at a percentage of the level of coverage required.