27 April 2021

Live music venues amped with $750,000 fund for gigs in Canberra

| Michael Weaver
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Canberra band Tonk played their farewell gig at The Basement to a 75 per cent capacity crowd on 10 April under the first exemption from ACT Health. Photo: NickB Photography.

Small to medium-sized live music venues have been given a long-awaited lifeline from the ACT Government to offset the costs of paying performers and promoting gigs.

The government’s $750,000 Amp It Up! fund will support live performances between June and November this year. It comes as larger venues such as The Basement in Belconnen and the smaller-sized Smith’s Alternative in Civic were given the go-ahead to apply for an exemption to increase capacity to 75 per cent.

Venues such as these have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 restrictions and can apply for grants of a minimum of $5,000 and up to a maximum of $60,000. Grant applications open on 3 May and close on 17 May.

The grant can be used for up to 100 per cent of the expected costs for paying artists and technicians and up to 50 per cent of marketing and promotion costs.

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MusicACT president Dave Caffery said the funding had been in line with their calls for more support for live music venues.

“This fund for gigs at local venues is critical. With the end of JobKeeper and restricted venue capacities, this fund allows people to come together in safe venues to have a great time and sustain the engine rooms of the music industry,” he said.

“Music is a wonderful remedy for social isolation – something that still lingers in our city – so we encourage everyone to see a local gig backed by the ACT Government.

“This fund will sustain venues, musicians and technicians to present great music for Canberrans to enjoy.”

Lucy Sugerman

Lucy Sugerman, who performed at the Good Folk festival in March, welcomed the support for live music. Photo: Supplied

Arts Minister Tara Cheyne said the live music and performance industry continued to struggle to return to pre-COVID levels, and the winter months would likely further impact the sector’s confidence.

“Live music and performance venues are an important part of Canberra’s night-time economy and the character of our city, and integral to the development and employment of our talented local artists.,” Ms Cheyne said.

“Unfortunately, due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the onset of winter, our live music and performance venues are continuing to face financial stress.

“The ACT Government will provide urgent support to live music venues through the Amp It Up! fund to help the industry stay viable, provide new and more opportunities to artists and keep Canberra’s night-time economy strong.

“Through this fund, we hope to see a whole new calendar of live gigs in Canberra during 2021, offering audiences a great opportunity to get along to live music, comedy or poetry performance and safely enjoy live entertainment again at one of the many amazing venues across the ACT.”

READ ALSO National Folk Festival head moves on as deadline looms for 2022

The $750,000 fund is open to any ACT-based business or organisation that operates a live music venue.

Venues should demonstrate they regularly host live music or other gig performances, have a history of hiring acts, and have a dedicated performance and audience space.

“MusicACT will assist in the administration of the fund and support local venues in their applications and programming,” Ms Cheyne said.

At least half of the acts programmed by venues for this fund will need to be local acts, ensuring that venues continue to provide paid opportunities to local artists.

An industry information session will be held at Sideway Bar in Civic at 4:00 pm on Friday, 30 April, when MusicACT and the ACT Government will answer questions from venue managers and operators about the fund or eligibility.

Further information about Amp It Up! funding is available from the ACT Government.

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