$650 million. That’s what the gig economy needs if it’s to pull through these lean, tough times, according to Live Performance Australia.

As the federal government activates an unprecedented shutdown of all nightclubs, pubs, entertainment venues and so-called non-essential places where folks gather, and pulls the levers on a second phase in its economic support plan, the live performance sector reaches out for an additional $650 million in emergency funding in the days ahead. Otherwise, the music stops.

“The shutdown of events and venues in response to coronavirus has already cost our industry thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost income,” says LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson. “Australians who work in live performance or who rely on the industry for their livelihood have been the first to be hit by the coronavirus economic tidal wave and they will be the last to recover.”

Without support, there will “be no bridge to recovery for these companies and they will die,” explains Richardson. In a dire warning, a funding drought would ring in “the death knell for Australia’s world class live performance industry,” she continues.

LPA’s proposal includes a cash injection of $100,000-$2 million per company to alleviate immediate and prospective losses and retain staff and a $25,000 grant for each of the country’s 4,000 live music venues.

Evelyn Richardson
Evelyn Richardson

Richardson’s plea comes after the government unveiled a new $66.1 billion stimulus package. Also, a string of tough new measures were agreed upon Sunday during a national Cabinet meeting to restrict the spread of COVID-19, which prime minister Scott Morrison stated was a “deadly serious” situation.

From midday today, the following facilities will be restricted from opening:
• Pubs, registered and clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
• Gyms and indoor sporting venues
• Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
• Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
• Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
• These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with the above venues.
• Isolated remote community hubs are not included in these restrictions.

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A total of $189 billion is to be pumped into the economy by all limbs of government to keep businesses and individuals afloat. This includes $17.6 billion for the first economic stimulus package, $90 billion from the RBA and $15 billion from the government to deliver easier access to finance.

Australia’s live entertainment sector has been rocked by a wave of government directives, from a ban on indoor gatherings of 100 or more, and outdoor gatherings number 500 or more, and strict policies on entry at our borders.

Until now, only the smallest of venues could operate. With today’s sweeping new restrictions, everything is shuttered with no clear timeline on when life and business might return to normal.

According to I Lost My Gig platform, $280 million has been lost to event cancellations and postponements across Australia and New Zealand due to the novel coronavirus and bushfires. The total number of gigs and events scrapped tops 255,000.