There is no road map to reopening Victoria’s music venues.

The state government has announced a road map to reopening the state once we hit 80 per cent double-vaccination levels, but we are not on it. The current map ends at a one-person-per-four-square-metres density quotient for venues, which is a fraction of our normal licensed capacity. A venue that would normally hold 1000 people is reduced to 150, a pub with a 200-capacity bandroom could hold 20 or 25 people. Most venues cannot open at that level and no venue can trade sustainably.

We are on a road to nowhere.

Even at one person per two square metres, we cannot survive. We know this, because one person per two square metres is the most we have been allowed during this pandemic. For a brief window in early 2021, when there was no virus circulating in our community, the state government declared that we had reached “Covid normal”. Crowds of up to 85,000 were welcome at the footy, while music venues were capped at one per two square metres, roughly 30 per cent of our normal trading capacity. Week after week, we lost money. We were open, but we were bleeding out slowly.

Our venues, and by extension the entire live-music and club sector, have been in effective lockdown for 19 months. Government support, while very welcome, has never truly reflected the reality of our situation. Jobkeeper ended six months ago, but music-industry professionals have never gotten back to work. Promoters, bookers, managers, technicians, roadies, publicists – they have fallen through the cracks.

As small businesses with liquor licenses, venues have received piecemeal support, but that support tends to fall off a cliff when everyone else comes out of lockdown, even though we don’t. Musicians reschedule shows and reschedule shows, their payday receding further and further into the distance.

Our sector is resilient. It is populated by passionate, entrepreneurial, risk-taking people who love music. We love the joy and community it brings. But 19 months of being disenfranchised and overlooked have taken their toll. We are already exhausted and disillusioned, and now we are being left behind.

What we want, as an industry, is for the Victorian government to recognise how important music is to the soul of our city and our state – not just with words, but with actions. We want:

  1. A staged road map to reopening music venues at 100 per cent capacity.
  2. Ongoing, scaled financial support for music venues until we return to 100 per cent capacity.
  3. Ongoing, scaled financial support for music-industry businesses and professionals until we return to 100 per cent capacity.
  4. Direct consultation with music venues in planning for the recovery of the sector.

We want to be able to schedule shows with confidence in the venues that are iconic to this city – venues that will still be standing long after the temporary outdoor Covid stages go away.

Melbourne was once known as the Live Music Capital of the World. Music is in our blood. We want music fans to be proud of this city and this state, when the dust settles.

That’s what is at risk here – our cultural life, our community, dancing and singing together, raising our hearts and our voices together, cheering for the love and joy of music. We all want it back.

Please sign our petition, share it, and let the Victorian government know that the music industry matters to you. Help us get it back.

Save Our Scene is a campaign put together by a collective of Victorian live-music venues, listed below, calling on government relief for the industry. It represents independent, small to medium music venues across Victoria, including some of the most iconic and longstanding music venues in the country.

12 Bar · 170 Russell · 24 Moons · 29th Apartment · Afro Hub · American Hotel Echuca · Alpine Retreat Mt Buller · Angel Music Bar · Bad Decisions · Bar 303 Bar Open · Barwon Club · Bar Oussou · Bass Lounge · Bendigo Hotel · Blackcat · Bodriggy · Brown Alley · Brunswick Green · Cactus Room · Cafe Gummo · Caravan Music · Chandelier Room · Chasers · Cherry Bar · Circus Bar · Club Pandora · Colour · Commercial Hotel · Compass Pizza · Corner Hotel · Croft Institute · Dog's Bar · Dr Morse · Eddies Bandrrom · Edinburgh Castle · Electric · Evelyn Hotel · Ferdydurke · Fiftyfive · Fortyfive Downstairs · George's Bar · Glamorama · Grace Darling Hotel · Grand Hotel Mornington · Halls Gap Hotel · Hotel Nicholas · Howler · Inflation · Irish Times · Jazz Lab · John Curtin Hotel · Labour In Vain · La Di Da · Laundry Bar Fitzroy · Leadbeater Hotel · Longplay · Loop · Lost Ones · Major Toms · Mango Lounge · Max Watts · Melbourne Pavilion · Merri Creek Tavern · Mr Boogie Man Bar · Musicland Fawkner · My Aeon · New Guernica ·Nighthawks · Northcote Social Club · One Six One · Open Studio · Paris Cat · Pause Bar · Pawn & Co · Piano Bar · Pier Bandroom · Platform One · Post Office Hotel · Prince Alfred Hotel · Prince Bandroom · Radar · Revolver Upstairs · Rooftop Bar · Royal Oak Hotel · Rubik Warehouse · Saints & Sailors Port Arlington · Section 8 Bar · Shady Lady · Sooki Lounge · Stay Gold Brunswick · Sub Club · Swamplands Bar · Theatre Royal Castlemaine · The B.East · The Bergy Seltzer · The Bridge Hotel · The Butterfly Club · The Carlton Club · The Charles Weston Hotel · The Colonial Hotel · The Croxton Bandroom · The Drunken Poet · The Eastern · The Espy · The Forum · The Gasometer Hotel · The Golden Vine · The Horn African Cafe · The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar · The Night Cat · The Old Bar · The Palais Hepburn · The Penny Black · The Pinnacle · The Rainbow Hotel · The Retreat Hotel · The Standard Fitzroy · The Thornbury Theatre · The Toff · The Tote · The Tramway Hotel · The Wool Exchange · Torquay Hotel · Tramp · Volta · Wesley Anne · Westernport Hotel · Westwood Hotel · Whole Lotta Love · Workers Club · Workers Club Geelong · Yah Yahs · Yarra Hotel Abbotsford · Yarraville Club