Victorian music venues send an open letter to the State Government for help
18.03.2021

Victorian music venues send an open letter to the State Government for help

Words by Chloe Karis

“Don’t be fooled – Victoria’s live music venues are open, but we are not okay.”

Over 100 Victorian music venues have sent an open letter to the State Government yesterday, wanting the government to “provide a clear and balanced roadmap for easing restrictions” for the live music industry.

Summary

  • Victoria’s Save Our Scene has sent an Open Letter to the state government today
  • The letter brings attention to the possible closure of live music venues without assistance from the Victorian government
  • Some of the venues who have signed the Open Letter include The Forum, The Corner, The Espy, The Old Bar, The Curtin and more.

Catch up on all the latest industry news here.

Prestigious and well-known venues across Victoria have signed the open letter, including The Forum, 170 Russell, Corner Hotel, The Espy and The Croxton Bandroom.

The letter is hoped to bring attention to the State Government that music venues across Victoria still need help to continue operating, even when JobKeeper finishes at the end of March. Music venues across Victoria reopened three months ago, as the Victorian Government allowed them to with the roadmap for reopening to a COVID Normal.

The open letter was coordinated by Save Our Scene, representing venues across the state. They write in the letter “music is who we are. It is a cornerstone of Victoria’s identity as the “creative state”, it is something that we are known for around the world, and it is a huge economic driver.”

Save Our Scene was launched last year in June, back when it was unclear if or when live music was ever going to happen anytime soon, with the fear Victorian music venues could permanently close their doors.

After nine months of closure because of the pandemic, in December 2020 live music venues could reopen but had to follow the COVID safe requirements being based on a density quotient of one person per 2sqm. The density quotient is explained to act as a safeguard to ensure there are not too many people in close proximity.

The letter said “these restrictions mean our venues are operating at around 30% of their licensed capacity, resulting in a 70% drop in revenue” but fixed costs like rent, insurance, utilities and staff remain the same.

The Victorian Government had a $15 million Live Music Venues Program announced last year in July “which helped save many Victorian venues from permanent closer,” the open letter said. The $15 million was announced to help the venues “survive the coronavirus shut down and return to business, providing employment opportunities for artists, crew, promoters, bookers and more.”

Save Our Scene applauds the Victorian Government for the program which has helped live venues stay open, but the majority of them “are still severely debt laden from 9 months of closure and have only been able to reopen at such low capacities with the support of job keeper.”

Prior to the $15 million, there had $4 million announced for the music industry to support musicians and workers in the industry who had lost gigs, income and employment because of the COVID shut down. 

The open letter requests an increase in venue capacities now to help “preserve this vital culture sector for the long term.” This will continue to allow the music industry to keep stable with artists performing live and hospitality workers are seen back in employment.

Save Our Scene argue in the open letter that “live music matters as much as the tennis and the footy.” Every Saturday night before COVID had hit, music venues in Victoria alone would bring in over 112,000 people which can have a larger audience attendance than the AFL grand finals.

In a 2017 report, the Melbourne Live Music Census found Melbourne had more live music venues per capita than other cities around the world, including London, New York City and Los Angeles. 

It’s clear to know venues are essential for the music industry. If the music venues close, not only will the live music economy will disappear, but the cultural heritage with it will also go, as well as our own Australian artists “will have fewer places to perform, to grow, to find fans” in their own country and city.

Save Our Scene closes the open letter with a thanks from all music venues who signed the letter and said, “our music venues can not survive without Victorian Government intervention. So please, protect our music venues. Support our artists. Save our scene.”

For more information, visit Save Our Scene, or follow their Facebook or Instagram.