$20M emergency support for events sector announced by VIC government

The package includes a range of support, from $500 per cancelled event for musicians and performers, through to $250,000 for major events.

The Victorian State Government has announced a $20 million support package to support the events sector, including live performance events and cinemas, following the disruption and financial impact of the May-June COVID-lockdown.

Financial support on offer ranges from $500 per cancelled event for musicians and performers, up to $250,000 for major events.

‘Event organisers have done it tough and they deserve this across-the-board support – from big companies with dozens of workers to individual contractors it will provide critical cash injections when they are needed most,’ said Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events Martin Pakula.

Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson added: ‘From performers and technical crew to promoters and venues, it takes many hands to stage a live performance event and many have lost business and work because of this pandemic.

‘This package provides vital support to our arts and entertainment industry, but in particular our cinema businesses – these grants will be critical to a sector we know has been hit hard throughout the pandemic,’ he said.

The package delivers grants in five areas:

  • The Sustainable Event Business Program will provide grants of up to $250,000 to major event organisers, hosts and suppliers who have suffered financial loss as a result of the recent restrictions that began in late May, and where the ongoing viability of their event or business has been significantly affected by the pandemic.
  • The Impacted Public Events Support Program will deliver grants of up to $25,000 to eligible event organisers and up to $10,000 to eligible suppliers of Tier 1 and Tier 2 events (events with crowds above 1,001 people) under the Public Events Framework that were approved to take place between 11.59pm on 27 May 2021 and 11.59pm on 24 June 2021.
  • An Independent Cinema Support Program will deliver up to $12,000 per venue to independent cinema operators unable to operate due to the COVID-19 restrictions that commenced at 11.59pm on 27 May 2021.
  • Live performance event presenters are eligible for up to $7000 under the Live Performance Support Program (Presenters). A presenter is defined as a person or organisation with the right to hold, cancel or re-schedule an event, collect the proceeds from ticket sales and/or re-locate a given live performance event/s. This includes producers, promoters, venue owners or artists promoting their own show.
  • A Live Performance Support Program (Suppliers) will support suppliers of goods and services involved with live performance events, including musicians and performers, who will be eligible for a grant of $500 per event (to a maximum of four events) where the events they were contracted to support could not proceed because of the restrictions. Contracted suppliers include performers, crew, merchandise sellers, technicians and engineers.

The news has been welcomed – with reservations – by representatives of the Victorian sector.

Nicole Beyer, Executive Director of Theatre Network Australia (TNA) said: ‘TNA welcomes the new package, and is particularly pleased that the impact of shutdowns on independent artists has been recognised through the supplier program, although it is quite a small amount. However, we do still need an ongoing solution for future outbreaks, to ensure that artists and companies regain confidence in planning events.

‘A business interruption fund such as the programs in Western Australia and Tasmania would be a sensible idea. TNA would want to see such a fund include a provision for independents operating as sole traders, regardless of whether they are registered for GST or not,’ she said.

‘TNA welcomes the new package … although it is quite a small amount.’

– Nicole Beyer, TNA

Simone Schinkel, Chief Executive Officer of Music Victoria, told ArtsHub: ‘We were pleased to hear Minister Pearson announcing the details of the $20 million Victorian Events Support Package earlier this week. Specifically the $2000 ($500 for up to 4 gigs) for those sole traders in our industry who are not registered for GST – this was a gap we had identified in the February lockdown. We do however acknowledge that the scale of support does not yet match the scale of the impact – we just hope that our members may find some brief relief. Disappointingly, tour managers and artist managers have still been left out due to the limitations of the ANZSIC codes, a task for us to take up with the ATO.

‘We have also been informed that the guidelines are currently being updated and that this $500 can include lost income as well as sunk costs (expenses incurred) and that in the presenters package, there is $3,500 for our live music venues (you have to read deep into the guidelines to find it).

‘These are hard fought wins,’ Schinkel said.

The Andrews Government has provided more than $6 billion in direct economic support for businesses over the course of the pandemic.

Applications for the Sustainable Events Business Program, the Independent Cinemas Support Program and the Live Performance Support Programs will open shortly.

Register your interest and apply when the programs open. Businesses eligible for the Impacted Public Events Support Program will be contacted directly and invited to apply.

For more information on these programs, contact the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Richard Watts is ArtsHub's National Performing Arts Editor; he also presents the weekly program SmartArts on Three Triple R FM, and serves as the Chair of La Mama Theatre's volunteer Committee of Management. Richard is a life member of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and was awarded the status of Melbourne Fringe Living Legend in 2017. In 2020 he was awarded the Sidney Myer Performing Arts Awards' Facilitator's Prize. Most recently, Richard was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Green Room Awards Association in June 2021. Follow him on Twitter: @richardthewatts