A $750,000 fund has been established to reinvigorate the ACT’s live entertainment scene by underwriting gigs at Canberra live music and entertainment venues for six months.
Under the ACT Government’s Amp It Up! fund, from 1 June until the end of November this year, live music venues will be allowed to apply for grants ranging from $5,000 to $60,000 each.
The funding will assist them with booking, marketing and hosting live entertainment including music, comedy and fringe acts like poetry and burlesque.
A stipulation in the assessment criteria requires at least half of the acts programmed by venues for this fund to be local acts.
A streamlined application process has been set up for venue owners, with the fund structured to support primary-use live venues first and foremost; meaning those that host live entertainment as their primary purpose will be the biggest beneficiaries.
Smith’s Alternative owner Nigel McRae welcomed the announcement, saying conditions have been tough for his Civic venue since they closed in March 2020 for three months due to COVID restrictions.
Upon reopening, their capacity, which was 100, dropped to 24 with artists doing three shows in a row to sell 72 tickets.
“We still managed to do shows,” he said. “It was actually not as bad as you might expect, we had a bit of atmosphere.
“For the business only having that amount of people in at any time was pretty dire; our takings were down to about 25%.”
Now operating at approximately 75%, McRae said he will be applying for a grant under the scheme as well as capacity exemptions.
“It’s just nice to have the government recognise our role in the community, and it gives us a bit more confidence,” he said.
“I’ve been turning away acts saying the capacity is not enough, and now I’ll be able to say I can pay you some money to come.”
ACT Minister for Business and the Arts, Tara Cheyne, said the ACT live gig fund supports not just local venues but the ancillary sectors that sustain live performance including performers, technicians, hospitality and accommodation.
“The key thing is that this is flowing through to artists, flowing through to technicians and that means jobs, that means supporting our local artistic community as well as all the people who help put on a live performance,” Ms Cheyne said.
“This will cover some of the toughest months for our live music venues that have already gone through so much over the last 18 months.
“Winter is notoriously tough to get Canberrans out of their homes … but we’re going to put on through this fund a fantastic line-up of events that people can get to.”
MusicACT president David Caffery said support for the live entertainment industry is much needed given the prevailing economic circumstances.
“Travel and music were the hardest hit industries during the pandemic, but we didn’t get the billion-dollar funding handout that the aviation industry got,” he said.
“To see something like this come out is testament that venues matter.”
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