LPA’s most recent statistics show the industry sells almost 22 million tickets each year, generating $2.2 billion in ticket revenue with NSW and Victoria accounting for about two-thirds of the demand.
Federal Arts Minister Paul Fletcher will convene a meeting with the live performance industry on Tuesday to discuss how cultural institutions can remain solvent and get through the crisis.
“The creative and cultural sector is understandably concerned about COVID-19 and wants to be confident that government is fully informed of the near-term impacts on the sector,” Mr Fletcher said.
“I want to hear about the circumstances the arts are facing and to discuss assistance available, including the government’s recently announced cash flow assistance for businesses.”
Mr Evans, who is also managing director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, said his organisation would be cancelling all live performances until at least April and investigating the possibility of streaming concerts online.
“We’re a very efficient industry that’s largely dependent on ticket sales. We operate very leanly. It’s very difficult to withstand shocks like this,” he said.
Mr Evans said it was very important for the industry to know how long the sector would be shut down.
“We don’t know what closure period will be necessary. It’s imperative we have a time period to work with to communicate to our audiences.”
While Mr Evans said his orchestra could sustain a three-month shutdown, remaining solvent after six months would be “much more challenging”.
“We receive 40 per cent of our revenue from box office, 40 per cent from philanthropy attached to box office and only 10 per cent from grants from government,” he said.
A new website dedicated to calculating the effect of cancelled events across the industry has sprung up, with close to 1000 submissions received in 24 hours.
The website, ilostmygig.net.au, claims the lost income from more than 10,000 cancelled events is more than $25 million, with the livelihoods of at least 84,000 people affected. That includes performers, production crew, hospitality workers and booking agents.
One venue operator, Luke, wrote in to say his live music venue 170 Russell in Melbourne had seen all its shows cancelled.
“We are staring down the barrel of losing everything we have built over the last 15 years,” he said.
“The potential of not only losing my business, but my home, is a very real prospect.”
Musician Nat Bartsch said she feels “lost in an ocean of unknowns”.
“It’s the uncertainty that’s the hardest part. Not knowing whether the gigs you have next week are possible … When will this be at its worst? When will it be better?” she said.
Another respondent, Kat, said she was “scared for my family and my future”.
Ticket sales for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and the Sydney Writers’ Festival remain suspended, with decisions to be made on Monday whether the events proceed.
Biennale Sydney is still going ahead, with organisers saying the event does not involve large static gatherings of more than 500 people.
Mr Fletcher will also conduct roundtable discussions with representatives from his other portfolios, the media and telecommunications, on Monday.
If you or someone you know needs support, call the industry Support Act helpline on 1800 959 500 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Josh Dye is a news reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald.