‘Devastating’: Singing & Dancing Banned In NSW As Gigs Across Aus Axed

7 January 2022 | 2:09 pm | Staff Writer

“Devastating and will continue to put a strain on the mental health of an industry that has had over 700 days of hardship.”

As Omicron cases continue to surge in NSW, the state has reintroduced restrictions that will once again have a huge impact on the live events industry.

As the state records 38,625 new cases, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has announced a ban on singing and dancing in hospitality venues and entertainment facilities and stated that major events could be postponed if they pose a high risk.

The restrictions will come into effect tomorrow and remain until January 27.

Live events across NSW had already started to be impacted before today’s announcement, with one of Sydney’s biggest January events, King Street Carnival, postponed earlier in the week.

Overnight, Victoria reintroduced density limits of one person per 2 square metres at indoor hospitality venues and entertainment venues as the state surpassed more than 20,000 new COVID cases a day.

“It is extremely disappointing as an industry to find ourselves in an all too familiar situation of again having to reschedule or cancel shows due to government changes in their directives,” Stephen Wade, CEO of Select Music and Chairperson of the Australian Live Music Business Council (ALMBC), told The Music.

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“After ending 2021 in the most promising position looking into the future with most venues at 100% and festivals and events all moving ahead the live music industry for the first time in two years felt optimistic. 

“If venues go back to 1 per 2 sqm we will be cancelling and rescheduling thousands of shows again. Promoters will be staring down the barrel of millions of dollars’ worth of cancellation costs. Our workers are already fatigued from doing this repeatedly so to start a brand-new year confronted with the same issues is devastating and will continue to put a strain on the mental health of an industry that has had over 700 days of hardship.

“What can be done straight away – well, the industry have lobbied govts for an insurance scheme for this precise scenario, when everyone is give the green light to move forward and we are then stopped in our tracks. 

“The Victorian govt is the only one who has provided one and without it I can’t see how any promoter across the country could possibly continue putting shows on.

“For everyone else who works within the live music industry we will discuss with our ALMBC members as to the most pressing concerns as right now we have no idea exactly what we are going to be up against.”

Speaking with The Music following Victoria’s announcement yesterday, Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel said the latest round of restrictions were “brutal” for the industry.

“Here’s hoping these restrictions have the desired effect and that it happens quickly,” Schinkel said.

“We know that the Victorian Government values live music, that’s why they came to our aid in 2020 and 2021. We certainly don’t want that investment and work to go to waste.

“Capacity restrictions of any kind have a huge impact on the live music sector and targeted financial support is needed to sustain musicians and music businesses.

“I feel like a broken record but just as a reminder, DQ2 equates to about 30% of capacity and at that level it is not financially viable to put a gig on.

“No one wants to be in the position we find ourselves in – and by that I am referring to both the rising number of covid cases and the new restrictions – but what will be the trigger/magic number to allow us to get back to doing what we love again. We need to know, if only to give us some hope.”

South Australia and Queensland are also feeling the effects of the Omicron outbreak, with iconic Adelaide venue The Wheaty unable to host shows again until the state’s restrictions allow for at least 50% capacity, while beloved Brisbane live space The Zoo was forced to close for the week as all its events were impacted by COVID.

The Brisbane leg of new Aussie festival Full Tilt was also postponed today, only one day out from kicking off due to members of Northlane, their touring party and a number of other artists on the bill all testing positive to COVID this morning.

Brisbane-based artist Hatchie today noted via Twitter that “watching tour after tour get cancelled yet again is mentally exhausting”.

“Pretty much past the point of being upset and mostly numb to it all now,” she said. 

“It doesn't even feel like consistent touring was ever real at this point.”

WA faced a slew of cancellations across the holidays following Delta breaching the state’s hard border.