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Australian live events industry boosted by federal funding

The Australian Government has increased funding for the live events industry, adding A$125m (£69m/€80m/$95m) to the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund.

The support also includes an additional A$10m to music crisis charity Support Act, with the RISE threshold for grant applications being lowered by A$50,000. The fund’s guidelines previously set a minimum grant threshold of $75,000, but will now lower it to $25,000 in a bid to encourage small- to medium-sized organisations to apply.

It will also now allow for businesses to apply jointly in a move designed to allow independent operators like managers, promoters and artists to apply together on a case-by-case basis for tours or events.

The move has been welcomed by industry bodies including the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which represents Australia’s largest live event businesses, and Live Performance Australia (LPA), the peak body for Australia’s live performance industry.

Geoff Jones, LEIF co-chair and chief executive of live entertainment and ticketing giant TEG, said: “We commend the Federal Government wholeheartedly for this package and its recognition that our industry just wants to get back to business.

“The Government’s boost to the RISE funding will play an important role in enabling us to do that, along with its welcome boost to Support Act to help some of the most vulnerable people in our industry through what continues to be an extremely challenging time. Our next step is to work with The Federal Government, State & Territory Governments and National Cabinet to enable Australia to lead the world in live entertainment.”

The RISE Fund was announced last April as part of the government’s A$250m arts relief package announced in June, and began with $75m. It also provided Support Act with an initial A$10m last year.

LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson said industry recovery is uneven, with parts of the live music and entertainment industry still unable to fully reactivate due to ongoing restrictions but is preparing for full activation in Q4 and into 2022.

She noted that with JobKeeper ending this month, the music and live entertainment industry is unable to fully reactivate due to COVID-19 restrictions, notably venue capacity limits, border uncertainties and barriers to international acts entering Australia.

While more theatre productions are coming back on stage, Australia’s live music industry is gearing to deliver events in Q4 onwards.

Richardson said: “A boost to the existing RISE program to get more shows and acts on stages nationally will provide considerable community stimulus to both upstream and downstream businesses which are driven off the back of Australia’s $15 billion live performance industry.

“Extending the scope of the RISE program will provide a targeted and temporary measure for the sector to retain its core skills base as it prepares for full reactivation in Q4 onwards. In addition to music promoters and festivals, this will encourage more direct applications from micro-businesses such as managers and booking agents for contemporary music tours and events.

“It will also help support employment retention in the live music sector over the next six months when it will still be operating well below capacity. Making it easier for businesses to get support to plan shows and claim pre-production costs, which includes key entertainment workers, is critical.”

In addition, the New South Wales Government has today (Thursday) announced a A$51.5m stimulus package, which acknowledges the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the live entertainment industry across the State and in the Sydney CBD.

Jones has applauded the move, stating: “This package will help bring people back into the centre of Sydney whilst encouraging the return of live music across the State and supporting jobs in the entertainment industry and the tourism and accommodation sectors that it feeds.”

NSW has also announced it will begin to ease gathering restrictions from March 29.