“Without being able to run at or close to our total capacity, it’s impossible for us and other venues like us to continue,” Mr Ippoliti said. “Without needs-based government assistance many venues will permanently close their doors in the next six months.
“The support of JobKeeper and rent relief has helped to an extent, but if the COVID restrictions on gatherings extend beyond the JobKeeper and rent relief periods, we have no revenue and we can’t sustain our people, we can’t pay out rent, we can’t make our ideas.”
Mr Ippoliti said he and other venue owners “want to safely re-open and trade sustainably so that we can engage with artists, musicians, DJs and creators and to continue a space where they connect with their audiences” and that venues “can’t exist without people coming together”.
When the state government announced the easing of some restrictions for performance spaces earlier this month, a spokesperson told The Age, “we’ll have more to say about the further cautious easing of restrictions in due course”.
Melbourne DJ Henry ‘Who’ Wilson said “the sad reality is some venues have already closed their doors and many more will follow” without financial assistance from the government.
“Cultural capital takes years to build and we’re at risk of losing ours overnight,” he said. “Our music and arts scene is hugely valuable to our economy and the ripple effect from mass closures of venues would be devastating on so many levels.”
Save Our Scene spokesperson Simone Ubaldi said the thousands of people who signed up to the SOS campaign show “just how important our music scene is to Australians” and venue owners need to be heard before they’re out of options.
“We are the pubs, theatres and clubs where Australian musicians get their start and hone their craft,” Ms Ubaldi said. “We are the venues where Victorian music lovers see shows not just once a year, but every night of the week. Our venues nurture the part of Victoria’s music culture that is uniquely Victorian, providing community, connectedness and wellbeing to people across the state.”
Musician Ella Hooper, who made her start in the music industry with rock band Killing Heidi in the mid-1990s, said protecting the spaces where musicians and fans come together was vitally important for the resurgence of the state’s celebrated live music scene.
“Small to mid-size venues are a huge part of the good health of the Melbourne music scene… a crucial stepping stone for bands starting out and cutting their teeth,” she said.
Martin Boulton is EG Editor at The Age and Shortlist Editor at the Sydney Morning Herald