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Local Musicians Call for Government to Save Our Stages

By Nicola Smith on December 3, 2020 in News

Gully Days ripping in at Factory Theatre. Photo: Paul McMillan

Music venues in the Eastern Suburbs are joining with venues across New South Wales to call for government support to counter the effects of Coronavirus restrictions.
The Roundhouse in Kensington and Spring Street Social in Bondi Junction are among 61 independent live music venues that have launched the Save Our Stages online petition.
The campaign hopes to lobby the New South Wales government to provide immediate support to save the state’s live music industry.
The venues are calling on the government to work with MusicNSW and industry representatives to put together a stimulus package that will ensure the ongoing survival of live music venues. The Victorian and Queensland governments have already pledged similar packages.
While many venues have been able to re-open with the easing of restrictions and hold shows under new social distancing regulations, business owners are concerned that the current model is not viable long-term without government support.
The Oxford Art Factory, a popular live music venue in Paddington, can only run at a capacity of 20 per cent under the current social distancing restrictions.
Oxford Art Factory CEO Mark Gerber told The Beast that these restrictions are not sustainable.
“Until we can get to a point of 70 per cent, rather than 20 per cent capacity, Oxford Art Factory is going to be in a position where we don’t know if we can last. It’s not like it’s an industry that’s going back to normal, it’s an industry walking with crutches. If you take that crutch away we might fall over,” he explained.
The sudden imposition of lockdown laws in April left live music venues scrambling for ways to stay afloat. Bondi Junction’s Spring Street Social offered roast dinners for home delivery during lockdown to help keep their doors open.
Now that restrictions are easing across the state, many live music venues see themselves as being able to offer crucial resources for the recovery from COVID lockdowns.
Tyla Dombroski, co-owner of Crowbar Sydney, said that live music is a key part of rebuilding the community.
“Live music venues help to bring people together and provide an essential space for music, culture, and community to flourish. We must do everything we can to protect and save our local venues before they disappear forever,” Ms Dombroski said.
Mr Gerber believes live music is also a profitable part of a post-COVID economic recovery.
“We’re going to be needed not just for a social recovery but also the economic recovery. We can play a huge role in the recovery in a healthy and productive way. The old is not there anymore, and we need to start thinking of new ways of going forward, and the creative space is a great way of finding those new ways forward,” he told The Beast.
Government support will not only provide short-term relief for those already in the industry, but also regenerate the industry for future generations.
“If it’s done right and we do recognise the value of live music in New South Wales, it can be great. We have an incredible pool of talent here, and creatives. We should endeavour to make live music a main industry and it should be funded by the government and recognised as such,” Mr Gerber said.
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