30 Sep 2020

Green Shoots as sun starts to shine

by Julius Grafton

Pic: NSW Minister for Jobs Investment and Tourism Stuart Ayres (L) and Trafalgar Entertainment Executive Chairman Tim McFarlane

Tim McFarlane, executive chairman of Trafalgar Entertainment Asia-Pacific told Fairfax media this week: “It is hoped capacity limits will be lifted entirely by the time Pippin opens at Stephen Found’s Sydney Lyric Theatre in November, but more likely it will be for Disney’s Frozen at the Sydney Capitol in December.”

Tickets are on sale, without social distancing, for all these shows. Hamilton also opens in Sydney next March.


CrewCare met this week and reports from around the country are encouraging. Excluding theatre and music, bars and pubs are operating normally in W.A. while S.A. has some socially distanced music happening now.

In Queensland, the Mitchell Creek Rock ‘N’ Blues Fest, in its ninth year, was the first three-day festival of its kind to be held in Queensland during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival — a sell-out with 3,000 tickets — wrapped up last week on a 40-hectare property in the rolling hills of the Mary Valley west of Noosa. It had on-site camping, and came with months of planning and Queensland-only musicians performing in front of a socially distanced crowd that had to stay in their seats.

In Adelaide, the collective known as Hindley Street Country Club saw an immediate boost to their online views of over 100 songs. YouTube featured one song, ‘Just The Two Of Us’, which has now had almost 4 million views. They kept adding a new song every Friday and moved into Andrew and Amanda Gayler’s AJS Lighting, Sound and Events factory. AJS built a set and their idle crew did production, lifting the video quality – which set the online views on fire. HSCC now have over 45 million YouTube views alone, giving over 100 musicians cause for optimism as they personally answer over 100,000 positive comments. 

National crewing agency Show Support has maintained around 50 key personnel on the Federal Government’s JobKeeper package, without which much of the talent built up over the past 15 years may have been lost. “Fortunately, all of our main Showies have elected to stay within the industry they love, a testament to their steadfast nature,” they report.

Stories are emerging about ingenious pivots. The Australian Financial Review reported this week that Harry the hirer have devised a new ‘‘COVID wearable’’ to potentially help relaunch the major events calendar – including potentially the Australian Open Tennis – in time for summer. The COVID Smart Badge is built by Aspen Medical and allows instant and automated contact tracing. Even better it allows real time monitoring of the number of people in a venue. (full story in October’s CX Magazine – published 1 Oct – ed.)

On the supply side, sales of equipment for live production are virtually stalled while projects and installations are, in some cases, exceeding budgets due to projects brought forward. Retail musical and DJ sales are at an all-time record world high.

Corporate events will restart in most states in October, initially for seated events, but socially distanced trade shows are not far off. Many outdoor music concerts will be staged over summer, with reduced capacity.

Two forms of entertainment remain ‘off the radar’ for the foreseeable future, with some suggestions we will see no international acts in 2021, and no nightclubs where close sweaty contact is ruled out.

Eventually a vaccine will arrive or the virus will extinguish itself as happened with the Spanish Flu after two years. The world is now a much larger place in terms of population, so the end date for Covid-19 cannot be known. But it will end.

CrewCare are hosting small gatherings nationally from October, and members are invited to suggest venues. Email or the author,


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