In recent years, a somber shadow has cast itself over Australia’s vibrant live music scene. A rising tide of closed doors and shuttered venues has left musicians and music lovers in despair. The culprit? Public liability insurance policies and their soaring costs, which is fast becoming the proverbial last straw that broke the back of live music in our beloved country.
From the Gold Coast, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth to Sydney, an alarming number of venues have succumbed to the relentless pressure of escalating premiums and rising costs. Some venue owners lamented premium increases of up to a mind-boggling 1000%, an exorbitant burden they simply could not bear. The ABC delved into the matter, unearthing a disheartening trend that has left musicians and audiences reeling.
The driving force behind this crisis seems to lie with insurance companies eager to rid their books of what they deem risky policies in a hard market for providers. By making these policies less attractive and financially viable for venues, they effectively sever the lifeline that once nourished Australia’s music industry. The Insurance Council of Australia’s General Manager, spoke candidly about their position during an interview with the ABC in September 2022.
“Insurance prices risk, and the activities we’re talking about are inherently riskier than other types of leisure activities,” Jones explained. “There’s alcohol involved, large numbers of people in tightly packed venues, activities taking place at night rather than the day.”
While such reasoning may appear logical at first glance, it unfairly lumps the vast array of live music venues into a single category with nightclubs and entertainment precincts. Such a sweeping generalization fails to acknowledge the distinctive nature of these specific establishments and the critical role they play in shaping our music industry.
Live music venues, with their diverse atmospheres and devoted audiences, provide a sanctuary for artists and enthusiasts alike. They foster creativity, offer a space for self-expression, and serve as the beating heart of our cultural fabric. Yet, by obscuring the nuanced differences between live music venues and other nighttime establishments, insurers perpetuate a damaging narrative of alcohol-fueled violence and public nuisance.
It is crucial to recognize that the closure of these venues represents more than just a loss of economic activity. It signifies the erosion of a cherished part of our national identity. Our music industry, renowned worldwide for its rich heritage and innovative spirit, is built on the foundation of live performances in intimate spaces. Each venue that falls victim to the public liability price surge further chips away at this proud legacy.
While the situation appears grim, it is not beyond redemption. Collective action, collaborative efforts between venue owners, musicians, and policymakers, can help reshape the narrative and secure a brighter future for live music in Australia. Recognizing the distinct nature of these venues and developing tailored insurance solutions that acknowledge the low-risk nature of most live performances is a crucial step forward.
As a nation, we must cherish and support our live music scene, for it is the soulful symphony that resonates within us. By navigating the complex realm of public liability insurance, shedding light on its disproportionate impact, and working together to find solutions, we can safeguard this vital aspect of our cultural heritage for generations to come.
Australia’s live music scene deserves nothing less than our unwavering commitment to its survival. It is time to reclaim the stage, raise our voices, and harmonize a future where the rhythm of live music thrives unabated.