Gold Coast live music venue operators say they are stumped by “double standards” that allowed thousands to attend the State of Origin, but have restricted one venue to just 56 patrons.
- Live music and hospitality stakeholders are meeting to call attention to COVID-19 “double standards”
- Restrictions that limit capacity and prohibit dancing have been extended until July 23
- Thousands attended Wednesday’s State of Origin, with limited social distancing and masks not compulsory while seated
The director of Mo’s Desert Clubhouse in Burleigh Heads, Kim Ferguson, said the arts and hospitality sector had been hit by a “constant barrage of restrictions” with her business operating at a quarter of its usual capacity.
“Wednesday night there was 26,000 people five minutes down the road from our business that’s now crippled to 56 people,” she said.
Ms Ferguson has organised a meeting of industry stakeholders this weekend to discuss advocacy efforts.
‘Venues have little warning’
Ms Ferguson says she understood the seriousness of COVID, but that the sudden and prolonged restrictions “cripples and decimates businesses”.
“We’re not able to pay wages, we’re not able to pay staff, we’re not able to do anything because our hands are so tied — the double standards are unreal,” she said.
“How do you tell a private party that they need to uninvite 50 per cent of their party? Uninvite your grandparents? What are we meant to be doing?”
She said many in the industry were “scared to fight back”.
“If it was the building industry or alike, the unions would be going crazy right now.”
Miami Marketta’s creative director Emma Milikins said the latest restrictions “were the hardest we’ve been hit” with, and the venue had lost $300,000 in ticket revenue and 400 hours worth of work for staff.
But Ms Milikins said she wanted to investigate if the COVID-safe plans used at sporting events could be replicated.
“How can we look at the football and go ‘if they’re doing it, why can’t we?’” she said.
“Why can’t we have musicians in bubbles? Why can’t we look at what they’ve done in the back end to make this actually happen?
“We want to work out how we can get back to business and I think we need some outside help for that.”
Events postponed, gigs cancelled
Queensland’s Emerging Artist of the Year, Beckah Amani, had five gigs around Brisbane and the Gold Coast cancelled in the past two weeks, costing her about $2,000.
“[I’m] trying to really be patient and see it through given this is serious,” she said.
“But at the same time I’m really annoyed that the government is playing this really ambiguous game when it comes to favouring other entertainment avenues and not the music side of things.”
Ms Amani said she “almost lost it” when she saw the crowds at State of Origin.
“Clearly, you could see the double standards.”
Natalie O’Driscoll had organised an LGBT+ friendly event “Rainbow Connection” this week but postponed it until July 30.
“It was just a chance for the local community to get together, mix and mingle, and get to know each other,” she said.
Ms O’Driscoll said she struggled to understand the “seeming hypocrisy” between the rules for sport and live music.
“I understand that one is an outdoor event but people are still yelling and shouting and sitting very close to one another,” she said.
She said there was reluctance within the general public to buy event tickets “because they feel it might be cancelled at the last minute”.
Importance of masks reinforced
Chief Health Officer Jeanette Young said stadiums had been “extremely good” in providing COVID-safe plans, which included the ability to contact trace based on ticket and seating allocations.
“The most important risk is when people are mingling before they go to the stadium,” she said.
But she said it was important those attending major sport games wore a mask at all times, until they were seated.
“I’ve not got concerns, we can contact trace, we can manage, but we have no idea when people get on to public transport, who they’ve been with,” she said.
“Once they get to the stadium, that’s the easiest part of the whole process.”
Minister for Arts Leeane Enoch said $7 million funding announced in the state budget would help venues cover operational costs, programming and artist fees.
“With this new investment, the dedicated two-year Arts and Cultural Recovery Package, announced last year to sustain the sector during these uncertain times, will now deliver almost $30 million in critical support across Queensland’s arts and cultural sector.”
Applications for the Live Music Support Program are now open.