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Not a single dedicated live music venue has appeared on NSW's COVID venue list

29 June 2021 | 3:02 pm | Parry Tritsiniotis

Of the currently publicly announced venues, none are dedicated live music venues. 6 are licensed venues making up 2.21% of the locations. 

Following repeated lockdowns across Australia due to COVID-19 (due to largely the slow vaccination rates and access to vaccinations in Australia) it constantly feels that live music is left behind in the re-opening of Australia. Every single snap lockdown, COVID scare, restriction change has immediately and disproportionately affected the live music sector. This is evidenced most by Sydney’s almost 7 month wait to finally regain dancefloors after a quiet period of COVID-19, Bluesfest in Byron Bay being totally cancelled just 24 hours from opening its gates and audience capacities being severely reduced, with no state having consistently been able to reach full capacities legally in live music venues.

The Australian music industry provides billions of dollars to the Australian economy and acts as the lifeblood of culture for so many people in the country. Therefore, there must be a valid reason for the contraction of COVID19 in live music spaces. With Sydney currently in lockdown, we analysed the amount of live music spaces and venues that have been listed as COVID impacted or transmitted. It’s important to note the weekend before the lockdown and restrictions were introduced, Sydney had parties, dancing, clubbing and live music all weekend. 

There are over 270 COVID impacted venues currently on the NSW watchlist. This includes venues that are transmission venues of concern, close contact locations and casual contact locations. Of the currently publicly announced venues, none, donut, zero, are dedicated music venues. On the list 6 are licensed venues (i.e. pubs and clubs) making up a proportion of 2.21% of the overall COVID case locations. 

Not a single live music venue, concert, gathering has been a close or casual contact to COVID19. So why does it feel like the entertainment industry is continuously lagging behind in Australia’s COVID recovery? Global studies have also confirmed this sentiment. A study, which was conducted at Dortmund’s 1500-seat Konzerthaus, was carried out over three days in November to analyse the movement of airborne particles in an indoor environment. The result of which was that there is a minimal risk of COVID-19 being transmitted via an indoor venue. 

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The outlook for COVID-19 in the country is grim and therefore even grimmer for live music. Based on recent history and against a lot of the evidence, due to the outbreak it may take months before live music is back to where it was a couple of months ago, and potentially years before we arrive at our pre-COVID level of programming.

Image Via Dan Lynch for Purple Sneakers