Life is tough in live. And there’s no timeline on a return to normal. 

Politicians and their policies will largely dictate the survival rate for companies up and down the music industry’s food chain. The rest is guesswork.

Brian “Smash” Chladil won’t die wondering.

With Queenslanders going to the polls on Saturday (Oct. 31), the Oztix Founder and Director asked for the answers that will define what climate his and other companies will operate in, for the months and years ahead.

Smash — a nickname that stuck from his roadie days — started the company in Brisbane in 2003. Since then, offices have sprung up in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and on the Gold Coast, and a sister affiliate NZtix is based in Auckland.

At its peak, Oztix employed 42 full time staff and sold 1.5 million tickets each year. Pre-COVID, it was the No. 1 independent ticketing company in the country.

But Oztix, like so many other businesses, is at the mercy of the pandemic. APRA’s revenue from concerts, live music and other streams was “hit dramatically” in the April-June quarter, with payments during the period down 11% year-on-year.

The glory days for live entertainment are on hold.

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“This year, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting restrictions, our business along with the entire live music industry has been decimated,” writes Smash in a message distributed late Thursday to the company’s database of concert fans and industry partners.

“Many of my friends and colleagues have lost their jobs or business and many have been unable to work.”

A member of the newly-elected board of the Australian Live Music Business Council, Smash reached out to three major parties contesting this weekend’s election, and invited reps to respond on their policy for the recovery of live music and entertainment.

These are the responses (via Oztix).

Gold Coast Music Festival

The Greens

The Greens stand firmly with artists and will fight to support the arts and live music industry as we recover from the COVID-19 crisis.

The past year has been incredibly tough on live music. This was one of the first sectors to be hit by social distancing restrictions, it has suffered enormously during lockdown and it doesn’t seem the government is in a hurry to help it recover. 

Although the Morrison government announced a support fund for artists four months ago, in Senate Estimates last week we learned that not a single dollar had been paid to artists or arts organisations.

The arts and entertainment industry, worth $112 billion a year, might not matter to the government but it matters to the Greens.

We’ve been pushing to end the state Labor’s government lockout laws since 2016, and calling for a complete overhaul of the ID scanning regime for nightclubs and late-night venues

During the local council elections earlier this year, we called for a doubling of the Brisbane City Council’s annual funding for festivals, events and cultural organisations.

This year, the Greens have been pushing for an economic stimulus package to support the arts sector.

This would include $300 million for artists in residence, $1 billion to kick-start the screen industry and a $1 billion grant fund to inject money into Australia’s festival, music and live performance sector.

This grant fund would invest in, and create incentives for, the planning and delivery of events, live music and performance projects for both metropolitan and regional communities. These projects are jobs-rich, with an instant economic boost to the community as well as the tourism, hospitality, retail and construction sectors.

This fund would also extend to small- to medium- sized infrastructure projects and upgrades for community concern, exhibition and studio spaces. We need infrastructure that’s built for the creative industries, not just sport and conference facilities.

The Greens will keep working to make this a reality, during this and the next term of parliament.

Australian Labor Party

Response to COVID-19 impact on arts and cultural sectors

The Palaszczuk Labor Government moved very quickly in Queensland to implement more than $10 million worth of measures to stabilise and provide certainty to the sector following the implementation of necessary social distancing measures in response the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Our Government was the first in the nation to do this. This was followed by another nearly $10 million worth of relief measures, and we are now seeing crucial support reach the sector under the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package, announced as part of our plan for economic recovery.

The Recovery Package is a down payment on Creative Together: A 10-Year Roadmap for Arts, Culture and Creativity in Queensland, recently released by the Palaszczuk Labor Government.

Live music venues and artists have been able to access new funding programs that are supported under the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s $22.5 million Recovery Package. This includes Live Music Venue Support grants, which have provided more than $413,000 to 21 live music venues state-wide to assist in offsetting the cost of reopening and showcasing Queensland’s incredible music talent while necessary social distancing requirements are in place. Grants of up to $15,000 have been made available to small venues, with larger venues able to access up to $25,000. Applications are still open for the Live Music Venue Support program.

Live music venues are also amongst the 52 recipients of more than $812,000 in Play Local grants, a program funded through the Palaszczuk Labor Government’s Recovery Package, aimed at supporting venues to program Queensland artists. The Palaszczuk Labor Government also funded $700,000 worth of $3,000 stART grants, delivered by industry partners such as QMusic to independent artists state wide.

Music venues and artists have also accessed support under the Digital Adaptation and Open Air programs of the Recovery Package. Open Air is supporting the activation of outdoor and non- traditional spaces, including music-based events, and independent music artists and collectives have also accessed project-based funding under the Queensland Arts Showcase Program (QASP), with the next round opening in November 2020.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government also provides organisational funding to the live music industry peak body QMusic through our Organisations Fund. Current Organisations Fund recipients have had their funding extended by a further 12 months until the 31 December 2021, in order to assist with stabilising the sector through the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Our Government also provides event sponsorship to BIGSOUND and the Australian Women in Media Awards, and also sponsors an array of industry prizes including the Billy Thorpe Scholarship, Grant McLennan Fellowship and Carol Lloyd Award.

More information about these and other Recovery Package programs that have helped support venues and artists through the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic, is available on the Arts Queensland website.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s record in terms of support for the arts and cultural sector, including in response to the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, is in stark contrast with the LNP.  Within days of the LNP Government coming to office under Campbell Newman, they cut funding to support the Premier’s Literary Awards. When the LNP’s Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington was Campbell Newman’s Assistant Finance Minister, cuts to the Arts Queensland budget resulted in the defunding of many organisations.

Under the LNP federally, we have seen successive years of cuts to the budget of the Australia Council and the ABC. At the time when our sector has needed the LNP federally to step up, they have deliberately excluded huge numbers of artists and arts workers from access to their JobKeeper wage subsidy, and many parts of the sector are still yet to see any benefit from their COVID-19 response package.

Supporting Small Business in the Creative Industries

The Palaszczuk Labor Government has also provided assistance to small businesses in the arts, cultural and creative sector through a range of programs across government, including:

  • $1 billion in interest free/low interest business loans, with 86% going to small business
  • $950 million in payroll tax relief
  • $500 million for the Backing Queensland Business Investment Fund to support businesses that need capital to create jobs
  • $400 million in land tax relief
  • $196 million for Small Business COVID-19 Adaption Grants, paid to 18,000 businesses
  • $100 million in electricity bill rebates
  • $1.2 million to establish a regional network of business support officers

A re-elected Palaszczuk Labor Government will continue to back Queensland small businesses with a $140 million strategy to lift competitiveness and resilience. The Big Plans for Small Business strategy will support private investment with:

  • An initial $100 million Business Investment Fund to invest in small to medium sized businesses that have significant growth potential and will create jobs
  • $30 million of investment to increase skills and capability including:
    • Small business grants focusing on priority industry sectors o Grants to assist regional exporters to develop new markets
    • The development of a Business Ready Website
    • Continuing Small Business Month and the successful Mentoring for Growth programs o A study to link government procurement of new fibre networks with increased access for small businesses to high speed broadband in the regions
  • $10 million of investment to make it easier to do business in Queensland, including:
    • Ongoing funding for the Queensland Small Business Commissioner
    • Small business engagement, including the Small Business Advisory Council
    • A Summertime Taskforce to support businesses to be more COVID-safe and move outdoors

Creative Together

Palaszczuk Labor Government’s $22.5 million Arts and Cultural Recovery Package is also a down payment on our recently released Creative Together: A 10-Year Roadmap for arts, culture and creativity in Queensland.

Creative Together is Queensland’s whole-of-Government roadmap to becoming a state that is renewed and transformed by arts, culture and creativity. It is driven by five key priority areas:

  • Elevate First Nations arts
  • Activate Queensland’s local places and global digital spaces
  • Drive social change across the state
  • Strengthen Queensland communities
  • Share our stories and celebrate story tellers

The roadmap will be implemented through a series of 3 action plans: Sustain (2020-2022), Grow (2022-2026) and Thrive (2026-2030). Sustain 2020-2022 aims to help stabilise Queensland’s arts sector, securing jobs for artists and arts workers, and delivering COVID-safe cultural experiences to Queensland audiences.

The Palaszczuk Labor Government’s 10-Year roadmap is also about understanding the role of arts and culture in our economy, and wider society. Importantly, Creative Together will foster an environment where Queensland will be the best place in the world to create, view and participate in the arts.

That is why the Palaszczuk Labor Government is backing the arts.

Now is not the time to risk the LNP’s cuts. Queensland’s ongoing economic and health recovery requires leadership and stability, and Deb Frecklington and the LNP are a risk to our recovery.

I urge you to communicate this message with your networks and supporters. Should the Palaszczuk Labor Government be re-elected, we look forward to working with you for the benefit of all Queenslanders.

Yours sincerely
STEVEN MILES MP
Deputy Premier
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services

Liberal National Party

The Liberal National Party did not respond to my email requesting information for this communication.