© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Decimated industry calls for support

Violet French
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A waiting game, until many can take to the stage again.  Violet French

Music industry groups call on the government for support during ongoing Covid restrictions.

New Zealand licensing, rights and publishing agency, APRA has requested funding from central government, as most of the nation faces a Delta-influence Level 2, while Auckland still remains in Level 4. 

Under the latest restrictions, indoor capacity is now limited to 50 seated and socially distanced patrons, while outdoor gatherings are capped at 100. There is mandatory signing in for events, and mask-wearing for staff. 

Since the start of the latest lockdowns in August, APRA AMCOS (which consists of Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society) claims hundreds of live music events have been postponed or cancelled, impacting artists, crew, workers and businesses in the live music sector across the country. 

APRA AMCOS has called for extra support not just now and in the immediate future, but on an ongoing basis.

In a written submission to government, its requested urgent targeted assistance including:

Locally, some are waiting to see what happens next.

Feather Shaw, owner of Darkroom on St. Asaph Street, has deferred opening in order to better prepare for the restrictions of level 2, and has had to cancel many exhibitions at adjoining gallery, Art Hole.

"I've had to cancel it all under level two - no cheese and crackers - and we don't know how long that's going to be.", Shaw said.

She says that while there are practical ways for her venue to operate, with events like weekly industry seminars and pub quizzes able to run, she can't run events such as Darkroom's regular open mic night.

"How is that going to work? Sharing a microphone? Sharing a guitar? It's just not an option.", she said. 

There is uncertainty surrounding crews too, with so many large shows being rescheduled, postponed or cancelled. Those that work behind the scenes are fearful of what the Delta outbreak will mean for Summer.

Jaz Kapow of Twice The Hype booking agency, hopes for another season saying the already 'decimated' industry really needs another good season.

Kapow adds there needs to be an industry standard for how to operate under an extended level two scenario, and suggests that there are ways to make larger shows happen, "but the whole industry needs to be on board."

So while much of the country's bars and cafes reopen with excitement, for many in the music industry, it's a waiting game.

Robert Collins, a stage and sound tech, and director of Rhythm Section Production, says "you can't postpone something until you have a postponement date, and that's anybody's guess. So we sit and wait."