Live music and performance venues are essential to Canberra’s night-time economy, and even though COVID restrictions have been lifted, many venues are still struggling to get back in the swing of things.
To give them a leg up last year, the ACT Government introduced ‘Amp It Up!’ grants to help small to medium-sized live venues recover. And like a John Farnham Farewell Tour, they’re back again.
ACT Minister for the Arts Tara Cheyne said Amp It Up! would continue to grow opportunities for local technicians, musicians and other performance artists and give Canberrans exciting live entertainment options.
“I’m looking forward to the diverse calendar of music and other live performances from July to December across the city as part of this initiative,” Ms Cheyne said.
“I encourage all Canberrans to get out there and enjoy themselves and keep the live music and performance sector thriving in the ACT.”
This year’s recipients will share $502,575 of funding.
Canberra’s home of live music, UC Live, is one of 15 organisations to receive round two ‘Amp It Up’ grants. UC Live is in line for $39,375.
UC Live director Sarah Jennett said it was completely shut down during the lockdowns.
“One of the biggest challenges we faced was trying to support our staff so that we didn’t lose them,” she said.
“We had to restart the business from being dormant for two years, and there are still uncertainties around. People don’t necessarily feel comfortable buying tickets to events because they wonder, ‘if I buy a ticket, what if I get COVID and then have to isolate? Or what if I’m a household contact and have to isolate?’ Businesses still don’t have that certainty and it has impacted a lot of people.
“Even if we do put acts on, we still don’t have the same number of people coming to them as we would have before COVID.”
Sarah said the Amp It Up! grant would provide an opportunity for many initiatives UC Live planned for 2022 to go ahead.
“At UC Live, we’ve always had a focus on all-ages events in the ACT,” she said.
“We want to provide a safe space for younger people to come along, enjoy and experience live music and a general social gathering.
“There’s not always that much for young people to do in Canberra, so we applied on the basis that we would do a number of live gigs for all ages.”
Sarah said UC Live had previously been selected from the first round of the Amp It Up! grants in 2021, receiving a total of $23,308.
This year’s funding would be used to re-engage the community on many levels.
“Part of our need for the funding was that we would engage junior production and sound technicians from all across the ACT and partner them with some of our senior guys for a learning and development opportunity.
“We saw it as a chance to keep up a number of really developmental and supportive initiatives.
“We’re already doing quite a bit in regular live music shows for over 18s, but we wanted to do something further within the community and aim to provide access to live music for all ages.”
The UC Live director said the grant would not only re-engage the business for the artists, but also the people who’ve worked within the industry, such as the production staff.
“I think that industries have really been hit really hard through COVID, and the uncertainty has been of concern,” Sarah said.
“Reinvigorating and getting people re-acquainted with the live music scene is what we want to do.”