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'Don't let the music die': Lord Mayor urges easing of live venue crowd limits


Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner has added his voice to the chorus of calls for the Palaszczuk Government to ease capacity restrictions on live music venues, saying many in the city risk going to the wall.

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Schrinner said the Government had granted sporting venues like Suncorp Stadium and The Gabba freedom to go to full capacity but had left concert venues to struggle with unsustainable restrictions.

“We do not want to see our live music industry die. It’s a great part of the cultural life of the city,” he said.

The Government insists that its capacity restrictions are based on expert health advice.

The Lord Mayor’s comments came as industry conference BIGSOUND, the largest artist showcase and industry conference in the Southern Hemisphere, announced its return for 2021.

Responsible for supporting artists such as Amyl and the Sniffers, Flume, Courtney Barnett, Lime Cordiale, Gang of Youths, and Rufus du Sol, BIGSOUND provides a much needed space for artists to showcase their talent within the industry.

The festival is part-showcase, part-conference, allowing music industry leaders to put their heads together to tackle the challenges which threaten its longevity and quality, a drive which has been renewed by the difficulties posed by the pandemic.

The Conference aims to develop a roadmap to tackle seven primary challenges: the post-COVID business transition, changing industry and audience dynamics, cultural change, inclusivity and innovation, gender equality and safety, international economics and domestic politics.

“Never before has connection for our music community been more important,” said Angela Samut, QMusic Chief Executive and BIGSOUND Executive Producer.

“This year, BIGSOUND will provide the chance for us to collectively grieve the losses the industry has faced over the past year and celebrate the treasure trove of Australasian talent that has been incubating throughout this time.

“Our commitment to rebuilding a stronger, safer, more inclusive industry as we emerge from COVID has never been greater and BIGSOUND is once again stepping up to the plate as the place where people come to discover the future of music and to be part of the future of music.”

BIGSOUND 2021 will begin with a First Nations showcase and Women in Music event in a drive to be more culturally proactive and inclusive, with plans to unveil an industry-first safety and inclusion programme established in collaboration with the Safety Council.

“The programme will bring together BIGSOUND alumni, psychology professionals and technology partners to create a physically and culturally safe environment for patrons,” said Samut.

A growing number of live music industry leaders such as John Collins, who operates The Triffid, and The Fortitude’s Brett Gibson have warned of mass business failures if restrictions are not eased.

Such venues have to operate under strict limits of two square metres per person, meaning many are forced to operate well below capacity.

Schrinner said live music was just as important as sport in terms of jobs and economic activity but venues could not turn a profit without decent crowds.

He called on Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young to agree to demands for music venues to be allowed to operate at full capacity.

“There’s been some quite clear exceptions made for allowing large sporting events in Queensland and that’s been well-received but there are rightly some other industries that are asking why they can’t have similar arrangements in place,” he said.

“Live music is one of this industries that supports a lot of jobs an economic research suggests that for every dollar invested into live music, there are three dollars made for the economy.”

“Unless we do something now there is going to be a number of people go out of business.”

More than 18,300 people have signed an online petition calling on the Government to end restrictions on live music venues since it was launched less than two weeks ago.

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