Sunday November 14 Victoria’s Minister for Creative Industries Danny Pearson announced $20 million in “funding for live music as well as Australian-first events interruption insurance package to provide the security and the confidence for live music to come back with a vengeance in 2022.”

Minister Pearson was flanked by Kat Theophanous the Member from Northcote, Simone Schinkel the CEO for Music Victoria (MV), and Julia Robinson the General Manager of the Australian Festivals Association (AFA).

The setting for the Live Music Restart announcement was the Northcote Social Club one of Melbourne’s “iconic music venues” that suffered due to the pandemic and the rolling lockdowns.

“Melbourne has been front and centre in the live music industry as Australia’s key cultural centre.”

Mr Pearson talked about Australia’s leading music impresario, the “late and great Michael Gudinski” who passed away earlier this year.

“Michael Gudinski staked his fortune on the Skyhooks’ iconic album Living in the 70s and it was the Skyhooks who introduced Melbourne themes into their music, making Melbourne front and centre of the live music experience.”

The Minister referred to the Skyhooks’ songs Balwyn Calling and Carlton two of Australia’s most important pop rock references of Melbourne in the 1970s.

His reflections seemed stranded in history in front of a younger media gaggle whose collective music memory probably doesn’t extend beyond the last decade.

Mr Pearson said he wants to “make this summer a summer like no other.”

“So many of our lives journeys have been associated catching up with friends in the mosh-pit, having conversations with friends at the bar, and dancing on a dancefloor and with bands playing.”

Mr Pearson said that $4 million is allocated “to complement the $5 million with already committed for a series of regional and outer metro live music events” for music performance in “public spaces and venues in the CBD, and another inner-city areas.”

“It’s time to support live music, it’s about getting back to the sticky carpet of your favourite band room, it’s about a Sunday session at your local, it’s about being outdoors at regional music festivals, or one of their great iconic live music venues like this walk the Espy.”

“The live music restart package will help musicians to get back on their feet, and it will help venues open quickly and easily, and it will give music festivals the support they need to plan new events across the course of 2022.”

In the package there is $8 million to assist live music “reopen safely” and musicians “back to doing what they do best not making fantastic music in iconic venues.”

Mr Pearson said that the Australian-first event “interruption insurance product for organisers of creative festivals, business conferences and sporting and community events” is there to provide the “confidence to plan and stage future events.”

The scheme, subsidised by the state government and delivered by the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA), will insure up to $230 million of events against cancellation due to public health measures.

Simone Schinkel the CEO of Music Victoria said the package was “a massive win.”

“It’s been a hard 22 months, but this is absolutely the sort of security and confidence that we need to come back bigger and better than ever.”

Julia Robinson the General Manager of AFA called the insurance “an Australian first.”

“Live music is a fundamental part of this social and economic fabric of our community here in Northcote, and in the West, so we are immensely pleased to see this investment into live music ecosystem.”

Neos Kosmos asked if the package will be offered to multicultural festivals and music events or if they would still be the poorer cousins of the mainstream arts sector.

Mr Pearson said that festival funding has been targeted and that he would investigate it and “come back” to it with more detail.

Neos Kosmos asked Ms Kat Theophanous if she felt that there was enough done for multicultural festivals like Antipodes. Ms Theophanous said that she “was not across the detail” and   reiterated the Minister’s position that the festival funding was targeted.

Rise, (former Melbourne Festival) began as the Italian Spoleto Festival in the 1980s, and Antipodes promotes some of Australia’s leading world music, and venues like the Retreat began as a Greek Rebetiko presenter in the 1980s.

The announcement of music industry support was overshadowed by questions on Saturday’s large street protests over the government’s pandemic bill.

The bill introduced into parliament allows the Premier to declare a “state of pandemic” — which triggers the health minister’s power to issue broad “pandemic orders” to significantly restrict activities and movement.

Minister Pearson said that “everyone’s got the right to protest, you should protest peacefully and respectfully, and that’s been a feature of public debate in Victoria for generations”.

Neos Kosmos asked about the Victorian Barr Association, and the sixty QCs who condemned the new bill.

“People have their own opinions on any given bill, and on any given day you can have a multiplicity of opinions. We’ve done a lot of work, we worked very hard to get the details right, we wanted to get this legislation developed, and it will be introduced into the Legislative Council in December.”

The Minister was at pains to point out that the Victorian parliament’s upper house, the Legislative Council “will scrutinise the legislation and make up its mind as to whether it chooses to pass it in the current form.”

“The bill is working its way through the parliament and it’s not for me to speculate on the views of others.”

Neos Kosmos asked the Minister to comment on Christopher Blanden, QC, the president of the Victorian Bar who condemned the new pandemic legislation as “appalling.”

The Minister said that the government has listened “carefully.”

“We have developed this legislation as a consequence of the learnings over the course of the last two years.”

“You’ll always have a diversity of opinions in democracy, we are pluralist society and people have different views on different times in relation to different bills”

Horse trading with members of the cross benches will determine the final Bill.

“The realities [are] that the government doesn’t have a majority on the floor of the Legislative Council and going forward into parliament sitting the Council will be considering this bill during this week.

The fact that a creative industry announcement of magnitude was overtaken by questions on the pandemic bill maybe a sign that state government has overreached with its new pandemic bill. A face-saving retreat seems eminent.

Now let’s rock!