In what looks like a devastating déjà vu feeling for the music industry, Faith No More, Jimmy Barnes and the Hoodoo Gurus have canceled Australian shows in the run up to Christmas, among many other acts that have been frightened by the peak in December. Case of Covid-19 and emergence of the Omicron variant.
Posting on his Facebook page over the weekend, Barnes said he was “absolutely heartbroken” over the outbreak in Newcastle, where his band was scheduled to give three concerts in December.
Last week, new Covid infections in the Hunter region accounted for nearly a third of cases in New South Wales. The state recorded 3,057 unprecedented cases on Tuesday.
“In the interest of the health and safety of the community and the approaching family Christmas vacation, both our family and [the venue]Lizotte’s Newcastle have made the difficult decision to postpone the three December shows to a date yet to be confirmed in early January, ”Barnes posted.
“We urge the local Newcastle community to seriously consider postponing any social events in Newcastle until after Christmas to ensure the safety of Christmas family reunions and to protect loved ones, vulnerable people and our essential workers.”
The in-house reservations manager at one of Newcastle’s most popular live music pubs told Guardian Australia it had canceled seven concerts last week, with bands expressing concerns they were locked up during the day of Christmas.
Spencer Scott of the Hamilton Station Hotel said he probably should have seen the writing on the wall when he booked two hardcore punk rock bands to perform last weekend. The groups were called Plague Dwellers and I Hate People.
After a potentially contagious case was found at one of Newcastle’s largest concert halls, the Cambridge Hotel, posted on its Facebook page on December 13: Rock n Roll. “
The next day, Cambridge announced that it was postponing its Hiatus Kaiyote show scheduled for the following evening. On December 16, he threw in the towel.
“We will wait until after Christmas,” he posted on Facebook.
“We have a role to play in our community and right now that means limiting everyone’s chances of exposure… Be careful and see you after Christmas.”
On the same day, NSW Health announced that Newcastle’s Lunar Electric music festival scheduled for December 18 had been canceled, under a public health order.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Ben Cavanagh, an event manager, wrote: “Lots of jobs lost, income lost and just the feeling of being in circles again. Really tired of it.
Widespread cancellations across Australia
The live music retreat in the Hunter is replicated across the country.
This month, Frontier Touring and Triple M announced the postponement of a December tour of Hoodoo Gurus and Dandy Warhols until April 2022.
In Sydney, the past week saw the cancellation of a number of live music events, including the Bad Vibrations Festival, the Loose Ends Christmas Party and Christmas Time in the Inner West.
Ticket retailer Oztix told Guardian Australia that around 20% of its events over the Christmas period – from December 1 to January 7 – had either been rescheduled, postponed or canceled altogether, for a total of over 300 events.
“A trend that we see over and over again that is really worrying is that a member of a band or a tour of a band becomes close or casual contact and has to isolate himself, forcing the whole tour to s. ‘stop,’ an Oztix spokesperson told The Guardian. .
“So maybe a tour has already been rescheduled 2-3 times, the band finally starts the tour, gets a few gigs… and they have to cancel. It’s still the real heartbreak.
Renewed calls for a national insurance plan
On Monday, a coalition of organizations in the live music and entertainment industry called again on the Morrison government and state and territory leaders to urgently put in place an insurance plan backed by the government to protect the live performance industry from crippling cancellations.
In November, a Senate committee inquiry concluded that providing insurance coverage to sustain the industry was not the responsibility of a federal government as it was the Australian states and territories that called for the shutdown borders, lockdown and social distancing measures.
Only Victoria has since instituted its own state-run live music insurance product.
The statement by the Performing Arts Coalition, which includes copyright agency Apra Amcos, the Australian Recorded Music Industry Association and the Association of Artist Managers, said the emergence of Omicron shows that the crisis pandemic was far from over.
“For an industry that is getting back on its feet, investing nationally and working hard to get shows back on stage and on tour, the continued threat of future business disruptions is very real,” the statement said.
While Victorian development was welcome, the Performing Arts Coalition said a national agenda was urgently needed to reflect the industry’s “national economic footprint and employment”.
The collective I Lost My Gig estimated that on average the Australian live music industry has lost around $ 64 million in revenue each month since March 2020, for a total of $ 880 million in lost revenue so far. .
A survey conducted by the collective found that 99% of respondents had no income protection or event cancellation insurance.
Support Act, the charity that provides relief services to artists, teams and music workers, has received $ 40 million from the federal government since May 2020.
During this period, the charity provided financial assistance to 2,540 members for a total of $ 8 million (up from 389 people for a total of $ 1.1 million in 2019) and provided more than 7,000 grants totaling $ 15.2 million.
Most of the funding was tied to performing arts workers whose livelihoods have been affected by Covid-19.