Push for government to underwrite events in wake of Covid cancellations

One of the greatest obstacles facing the live events industry under the current circumstances is the inability for organisers to get any form of insurance to cover Covid associated risks.

The last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest is the latest example of the risks live event organisers face, with the NSW Health Department calling time on the now twice cancelled festival just hours before it was due to go ahead.

Bluesfest organiser Peter Noble is again pushing for a government-backed Business Interruption Fund to fill the gap left by insurers unwilling to cover Covid related losses for events.

“This is a fundamental part of the music industry returning,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Because if something happened the damage that would be done would be inestimable, which it is.”

Bluesfest lost an estimated $11 million from the cancellation, which also badly affected all the suppliers who had banked on the mass influx of visitors over the long weekend.

Industry group Live Performance Australia put together a proposal for a scheme last year, costed at $100-500 million over three years, but has not heard a response form government.

This is despite the federal government introducing such a scheme for the film and television production sector in August.

To date 24 film and TV projects have taken advantage of the $50 million Temporary Interruption Fund, while another 17 are in pre-production.

Save Victorian Events is calling on everyone in the industry to lobby the federal and state governments to underwrite Covid cancellation insurance for live events so that organisers can get back to holding events without the risk of losing everything they have.

“It is not possible to get event cancellation insurance for Covid risks,” the group said.

“Insurance companies are no longer offering coverage. This means that a lot of organisations from commercial promoters to not for profit groups that rely on events to generate much of their income, from schools and community groups through to large businesses cannot hold their events as they cannot risk the huge financial consequences of operating without insurance.

“This is the main reason why a large proportion of live events are not happening right across Australia.  And it is causing business closures, job losses, and families losing their homes as well as all they have worked for, often for decades, right across the live event sector.

“We know that lockdowns are likely to keep happening for another year or longer, so this will remain a huge issue for a long time.”

Use this link to send an email to the Treasurer, Ministers and your state and federal MPs to ask them to urgently act.