The longest lockdown on the planet is about to lift, and Victorians will soon find themselves breathing the fresh air that comes with freedom.

For the live industry, however, the road ahead remains an uncertain one.

Today (Oct. 18), Save Our Scene launches an online petition, calling for a clear roadmap to reopening to full capacity, in addition to ongoing financial support for the Victorian music industry.

The Road To Nowhere campaign kicks off as Melbournians prepare to celebrate the end of the sixth and latest lockdown, a miserable marathon that has stretched across more than 70 days.

With Victoria sprinting to its 70% fully vaccinated target, restrictions on leaving home will end late Thursday, and curfew will be scrapped, state Premier Dan Andrews told reporters on Sunday.

The strategic roadmap for reopening the state will come into effect, though, currently, music venues are not on it.

The live sector is “on a road to nowhere,” reads an open-letter, published by Save Our Scene. “The current roadmap ends at a 1 person per four metres square density quotient for venues, which is a fraction of our normal licensed capacity.”

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Most venues cannot open at all at that level, the letter explains, and no venue can trade sustainably.

“Even at 1 person per 2 square metres, we cannot survive,” the message continues. “For most venues, that is 30% of our normal trading capacity. We may be open, but we will be bleeding out slowly.”

If government doesn’t protect the live space, and in the absence of a path to a “COVID normal” where live music venues and clubs can trade sustainably, “there will be nowhere for musicians to perform when the dust settles,” according to the campaign.

“Melbourne,” it warns, “will no longer be the Live Music Capital of the World.”

Victoria’s live industry has effectively endured a lockdown for 19 months and “to be left off the map is just a devastating blow,” says Simone Ubaldi, venue operator at The Croxton Bandroom, a supporter of the campaign.

“There are so many people impacted by this – musicians, promoters, bookers, technicians, venue owners and staff – and we are all desperate to get back to work,” Ubaldi tells TIO.

“We don’t need the doors to be thrown open tomorrow, but we need some real consideration. We need to be able to plan ahead for a time when we can trade at 100% capacity and we need targeted support for the sector until we get there, because we are the guardians of an incredibly important piece of Australian cultural life.”

Organisers of the campaign request four points of action from the Victorian government.

• A staged roadmap to reopening music venues at 100% capacity
• Ongoing, scaled financial support for music venues until we return to 100% capacity
• Ongoing, scaled financial support for music industry businesses and professionals until we return to 100% capacity
• Direct consultation with music venues in planning for the recovery of the sector

“Give us a path out of this and support us until we get there,” the message concludes.

To get behind the campaign, Save Our Scene unveils a merch collection, with all funds raised going towards campaign costs and any surplus donated to Support Act.

Read the letter and sign the petition here.