Thousands of entertainment jobs to be lost
The Australian live entertainment industry will lose two-third of all jobs - about 79,000 full-time equivalent positions - by the end of 2020, according to an EY report.
Industry leaders have urged the Federal Government to take urgent action, including an extension of JobKeeper beyond March next year and a GST break on tickets, to stem the hit on revenue losses from the pandemic shutdowns of concerts and events.
The preliminary findings of the Economic Cost of COVID-19 on Australia's Live Entertainment Industry report, to be presented at the 2020 Event Summit on Wednesday, confirm the grim predictions for the future sustainability of the sector.
Only 43,000 full-time equivalent jobs of the 122,000 positions held last year in live entertainment will remain by the end of 2020.
EY estimates the sector's contribution to the Australian economy will fall almost two-thirds to $12.8 billion from $36.4 billion in 2019.
Live Entertainment Industry Forum chair James Sutherland said the job outlook for event workers was "truly bleak".
"JobKeeper has provided a lifeline for our sector, but the prospect of it disappearing in March 2021 - when the industry is likely to remain massively inhibited by key pandemic-related restrictions is of grave concern to all industry operators," he said.
"For our industry to operate profitably we require venues operating at full capacity, unrestricted interstate movement, and open international borders without extensive quarantine. Without those necessary conditions, the outlook is truly bleak.
"Given the long route to recovery, and the nature of lasting restrictions, we believe that an industry extension to JobKeeper is a fair and important next step."
TEG chairman Geoff Jones, who was one of the organisers behind the Fire Fight Australian bushfire benefit in February, said a moratorium on GST on sales of tickets was a "simple, targeted action" to help promoters offset the increased costs of staging COVIDSafe gigs.
"EY's report demonstrates that when our industry does badly, Australia loses. Almost all of our revenue disappeared overnight when COVID-19 restrictions closed down the industry in March and while the return of sport with limited capacities has offset some of that impact in EY's figures, for commercial live entertainment operators both large and small, revenue in September/October remains at no more than ten per cent of 2019 levels," he said.
Jones said Australians have "cabin fever" and need something to look forward to "after an awful 2020", with fans holding onto 80 per cent of tickets for postponed shows.
Demand for Delta Goodrem's tour in April next year has grown during COVID-19, thanks to her weekly livestreams to keep fans engaged and Guy Sebastian has decided to test the waters with tickets for his T.R.U.T.H. national tour in November next year going on sale on Friday.
"Access to live entertainment is part of what makes the Australian lifestyle so special, which is why our industry needs and deserves temporary assistance to ensure its survival," he said.
LEIF also wants the government to underwrite a Live Entertainment Business Interruption Fund as promoters cannot get insurance for shows stalled by COVID.
It would be modelled on the $50 million Screen Australia fund which allowed film and television productions to get back to work.
"We are a very self-sufficient industry, however we need the support of Government in respect of losses incurred due to interruptions cause by the imposition of COVID related restrictions," Roger Field, President of Live Nation Asia-Pacific, said.
"This small safety net would allow us to get back to investing in our events and communities as we return safely and responsibly."
Originally published as Thousands of entertainment jobs to be lost