A coalition of Australian peak music bodies have called on the Morrison government to adopt an insurance scheme for live performance similar to the £750m government-backed program announced by the UK this week.
As more than 16 million Australians enter the weekend in lockdown, national music and entertainment industry bodies, including Aria, , Live Performance Australia and the Live Entertainment Industry Forum, issued a joint statement calling for a reinsurance scheme to protect the industry from crippling disruptions and cancellations that show no sign of ceasing in coming months.
The UK joined Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Estonia on Thursday, brokering a deal with Lloyds to provide a financial buffer for the live music and entertainment sectors against future possible lockdowns.
In Australia however, only the film industry so far has received government reinsurance, through the federal government’s $50m Temporary Interruption Fund announced in June 2020. And that only covers cases where productions are affected by Covid-19 infection, not state-ordered lockdowns.
LPA’s chief executive, Evelyn Richardson, said the Australian live performance sector was not asking for a government handout – it just needed government-backed security to enable promoters to purchase insurance cover against future disruption.
“The UK example shows there is a solution that can be developed in conjunction with industry on commercial terms,” she said.
“A scheme underwritten by government just makes it viable for insurers to put policies in the market.”
The CEO of Aria and PPCA, Annabelle Herd, said a government-backed insurance scheme would provide much needed confidence to Australia’s live music industry, after suffering a relentless wave of cancellations and postponements for more than a year.
“Without a scheme like this it is going to be a very quiet and sad summer,” she said.
So far the federal government has contributed $390m in Covid-19 emergency funding to the arts and cultural sectors, not counting the $50m it has set aside to cover any costs from film and television ventures associated with Covid-19.
On Friday, arts minister Paul Fletcher said the issue of reinsurance for the creative sector was a state responsibility.
“It is decisions by state government health authorities which trigger the business losses faced by producers of arts and entertainment events,” a spokeswoman said in a statement to the Guardian.
“Therefore, it is state governments which are best placed to provide cover against this kind of risk.”
On Thursday, the Australian Music Industry Network (Amin) and the AFA released its latest report I Lost My Gig, finding that since 1 July this year, more than 28,000 live events have been cancelled, resulting in a loss of more than $84m.
The industry also launched a campaign called Our Soundtrack Our Stories, calling on the business community to support more home-grown music to boost flailing royalties from streaming and sales.
Jack River performs Fools Gold for the Music From The Home Front, a televised concert to honour Anzac Day and thank frontline workers in the Covid crisis in 2020. Photograph: Nine Network/PR IMAGE
Singer-songwriter Jack River started the ball rolling last week, calling out Channel Seven for its lack of Australian artists featured in the music accompanying its blanket Olympics coverage.
“And while we’re here, how good would it be to hear Aussie music in Coles, Woolies, Aldi, in banks, on hold, in stores and on ads being shown to Australians for the next few months?” she added.
Channel Seven’s Sunrise Olympics host Edwina Bartholomew responding by pledging on social media the network would “beef up” its Australian music content for the remainder of the Tokyo games.
Coles followed suit, promising on Tuesday to ramp up the ratio of local music on its in-house radio station across its 800 stores nationwide.
In a statement to the Guardian, Woolworths said: “We know how important it is to support the Australian music industry. We’re constantly reviewing our playlists with our in-store radio provider and always seek to be responsive to feedback as we do.”
Aldi does not play music in its Australian stores.