While Sydney’s lockout laws are behind us and many venues are heading for a slow recovery from COVID-19, property developers still have a firm grip over the Australian live music sector.
The latest closure, announced Wednesday, is Melbourne’s historic The Curtin. As a statement from the soon-to-be demolished venue reported, “The owners of the almost 150-year-old building have decided to sell, making way, most likely, for apartments.”
The not-unfamiliar announcement follows the closure of Sydney institutions earlier this month. Venue 505, The Lansdowne Hotel and Giant Dwarf are all set to hand over the keys of their live operations.
Following three years of lost income at the hands of the pandemic and the Black Summer bushfires, the Australian Music & Arts industry have not been shy in call-outs for support from the Federal Government.
The creative community were able to celebrate a small victory when last month the NSW State Government introduced the Perrottet government’s Event Saver Fund. The $43 million allocation of funding was directed specifically toward festivals and major events that were disrupted because of the public health orders imposed as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The financial backing would allow said organisers to apply for grants, with only one claim applicable per eligible event, capped at $10 million. Funds are said to compensate the recovery costs of suppliers and staff including artists and contractors.
This is a small win, but it does leave small and local businesses who have been under pressure for years still out in the cold. In a recent conversation held between Sydney Fringe Festival Director and CEO Kerri Glasscock and ArtsHub, Glasscock commented, “This [fund] is a key piece of the puzzle.
“I encourage government to also support small-medium scale events that may not meet the ‘Major Event’ criteria, but which are essential employers and important activators of the COVID recovery for our cities and regions. Venues and artists are still doing it tough and will need support to get through the next few months.”
NSW Premier Perrotet went on to express on Friday that the government is committed to do “whatever it takes” to revitalise the Sydney and Parramatta city centres. “I feel for many of those businesses and businesses right across our state have done it through during this pandemic. I am completely confident the Sydney CBD will be thriving again, as it was post-Delta last year.”
They are reassuring words, but without proper implemented strategies in place, they will remain only words. Australia remains behind in the way of arts relief funding compared to other countries including Germany and France.
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Feature image courtesy of @sebbb and article image from @dannyhowe, both via Unsplash.