Calls for a federal insurance scheme for live events intensified as organisers cancelled music festivals and concerts across Australia amid a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide saw three music festivals cancelled within a day of each other as the country experienced near-record level of COVID-19 cases driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant.
Evelyn Richardson, chief executive of Live Performance Australia, told The Guardian that she had met with federal arts minister Paul Fletcher in December to urge the introduction of a national insurance scheme for live events but was told there was “no appetite” for it.
“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected,” Richardson told The Guardian. “We appreciate the support we’ve had, but the government needs to step up and introduce a national scheme.”
Meanwhile, Julia Robinson, general manager of the Australian Festivals Association, told NME Australia that the ongoing wave of COVID-19 infections has dampened the industry’s outlook this year.
“We were looking very positive,” Robinson told NME. “There was a lot booked in March and April. This has thrown everything into continued uncertainty. If we don’t get this insurance, we won’t have a pipeline to deliver this year.”
While the federal government remains hesitant to introduce a national scheme, artists and organisers in Victoria can benefit from the state’s $20 million “Live Music Restart” insurance and support program that was launched in November.
Richardson, however, said that it’s high time the federal government steps in to support the industry as well.
“Yes the states have a role, but it has been very disappointing that the federal government hasn’t led and pulled the states together and worked with them,” Richardson told The Guardian.