Mon. Nov 29th, 2021

Australia is facing a shortage of live music this summer, with concerts and festivals unlikely to return in “a major way” before the end of 2022, the industry’s top body says.

Live Performance Australia Director Evelyn Richardson said the nation’s cautious reopening to the world had left promoters unable to secure many of the international players currently touring North America and Europe.

“We’ve missed the opportunity to bring a lot of our international touring acts to this summer, and with our domestic artists, many of them are touring internationally, so we haven’t got these people touring either,” Richardson said.

“We are unlikely to see live music return to a greater extent until later in 2022.”

Four people wearing band t-shirts.
Evelyn Richardson says Australia has missed the chance to lure major acts to the country.(Facebook: Live Performance Australia)

Some big hits including Kings of Leon, KISS and Rod Stewart will perform in Australia early next year, while people like Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa are expected in the second half of 2022.

The Splendor in the Grass Festival returns in July in the North Byron Parklands with Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator, all of whom have the main name.

Ms Richardson said that while the live music industry had been disproportionately affected by COVID, dance and theater productions showed a strong return.

This week, the Australian Ballet opened its first show since the lockdown at Sydney’s Opera House.

The company will then perform for a home audience at the Melbourne State Theater for the first time in almost two years.

Despite the excitement, artistic director David Hallberg said there had been some hesitation at the box office.

“There has been a bit of hesitation because people have coped with this pandemic and they have uncertainty about going out in crowds and audiences,” he said.

Even with caution, Mr Hallberg is convinced they will return.

“There’s been a wave of energy to return to live art – people can only watch Netflix for so long,” he said.

Sydney Dance Company’s artistic director has described a similar optimism – so much so that they tripled the dates of the current New Breed performance.

Ballet dancers in action
Sydney Dance Company tripled the dates of the current New Breed performance.(ABC News: Harriet Tatham)

“I think there’s a hunger to get into the theater and share the very special thing that happens when you see artists,” said artistic director Rafael Bonachela.

New Breed is a program that allows new choreographers to produce works with the company.

The recent lockdown meant that Jasmin Sheppard was one of four selected choreographers who conceptualized their work with Zoom – directing small digital bodies from kitchen tables.

“It’s definitely different,” laughed Mrs. Shephard.

“There are limitations, but I feel like we as artists are hugely adaptable.”

While it was far from ideal to work separately and outside of a study environment, the company’s artistic director said it was more important than ever to invest in new artists.

“There are a lot of artists and a lot of technical staff who have gone into other careers solely because of the shutdown,” Mr Bonachela said.

“Now, more than ever, after this global pandemic that we have all been through, it is so important to invest in the talent of the future.”

Evelyn Richardson agreed and expressed concern over a lack of skills that could last for years.

“It can take five years before we see the industry operate at levels before COVID, and that’s because we’ve just lost so many talented people,” she said.

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