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NSW live music scene receives $24m relief package

The NSW government has just announced a $24 million relief package for live music venues, re-igniting live music across the state.

The past 12 months certainly haven’t been easy for our local live music scene. In fact, it was the one industry that was hit hardest by the unexpected and world-changing COVID-19 pandemic.

Fluctuating restrictions – sit down, stand up, halve your capacity – left venues all over the state uncertain of their future, as remaining open became a decreasingly viable option.

live music
Image: NME

To make matters worse, JobKeeper is set to end this week, which would have sent the majority of venues into certain closure.

However, Jobs, Investment and Tourism Minister Stuart Ayers unveiled over the weekend a $24m relief package for over 150 music venues designed to keep them open permanently and re-ignite live music across the state.

Many beloved local venues are on the list, including the Burdekin Hotel, Club 77, Home Nightclub, the newly revived Ivy, Kings Cross Hotel, Lord Gladstone, Marys Underground, Landsdowne Hotel, Bridge Hotel and the Oxford Art Factory.

Until last week, the Oxford Art Factory had been working at under 17 per cent capacity due to the pandemic. However, since standing restrictions eased, it has been operating at 40 per cent.

However, the chief executive of Oxford Art Factory, Mark Gerber, expressed concern that these capacity limits were not viable for the long run.

The restrictions have seen the Factory losing key staff, and accumulated debt running into the hundreds of thousands over the past year.

Fortunately, the relief package is set to turn things around. It comes as part of a $51.5 million tourism support package designed to encourage people back into the Sydney CBD, with jobs in the accommodation, entertainment and tourism sectors receiving support.

The package also includes 200,000 vouchers worth $100 each for hotel stays in the CBD to be rolled out in June, with $24 million set aside specifically for live music.

This brings NSW up with other states, including Victoria’s $15 million live music support package, which rolled out last July, and Queensland’s $22.5 million arts and cultural recovery package targeting live music venues also rolled out last July.