18 May 2020

Staying in Touch in NZ During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The New Zealand Prime Minister first announced the four-level COVID-19 alert system in a direct address televised to the nation on Saturday, March 21. After that things moved fast and two days later on Monday, March 23, the Prime Minister moved to Alert Level 3 restricting any unnecessary movements as a final preparation to enter into the complete lockdown phase. On Wednesday, March 25, at 11:59 pm New Zealand entered into complete lockdown, culminating the four-day preparatory process. Restrictions eased to Level 2 at 11:59 pm on Wed 13 May, but strict gathering limits and physical dictancing requirements mean the entertainment and events industry can not yet function normally.

The Event Industry
The majority of events had been cancelled in the weeks and days prior. Mass gatherings over 500 were banned on March 16, and non-essential events over 100 on March 19.

Prior to that a number of shows were impacted by the measures that came into force at midnight on Sunday March 15 requiring people who arrived in the country, including returning Kiwis, to self-isolate for 14 days, including cast and crew.

Others had been cancelled even earlier, impacted by prohibitive freight costs.


Effectively since late February, the live entertainment sector has been in crisis. Whilst streaming technology has the potential to keep musicians and performers engaged, the roadies, technical teams, tour managers and riggers have nothing in their diaries for the rest of the year.

The Audio-Visual Industry
Similarly, many audio-visual manufacturers, distributors, resellers and hire companies are seeing both supply and demand impacted.

Manufacturers who are partnered with Chinese factories have seen major delays, if they have not been shut down completely. Even if brands are not manufactured in China, a preponderance of their components are.

While many Chinese factories are re-opening, bottlenecks exist elsewhere. After six weeks of total shutdown, factories are scrambling to fast-track their goods, opting to use much faster air cargo, rather than the typical ocean freight.

The problem is that air cargo space is increasingly limited. The same is now affecting products manufactured elsewhere around the globe. This will simultaneously decrease supply and increase the price of goods.

The consequence of this is that the market will likely see shortages and price hikes for the foreseeable future.

Inevitably demand is impacted too as economies have closed with the exception of essential services.

Planned installations are on hold or are no longer going ahead and sales have shrunk. Inevitably the hire market is decimated, apparently apart from loud hailers for essential services.

Photo Credit: Sharon McCutcheon

The New Normal
As we go to press there is much uncertainty surrounding the new normal.

The focus for today and for the next few months is to survive. There will be a future for both sectors and everybody needs to do their bit to make sure that we all get there.

We should focus on our own health, on our financial security, and stay in regular contact with others in the industry to check that they are doing the same.

The New Zealand Government’s COVID-19 website offers information for employers and employees on accessing financial support, as well as support for mental wellbeing.

A range of other resources are being developed specifically for the sector.


Financial Support & Professional Counselling

MusicHelps has been the music industry’s charity for eight years and among its core activities has been the provision of emergency financial support and professional counselling to Kiwi music people when crisis strikes through ‘Backline’. It has now started MusicHelpsLive to specifically support people and organisations facing hardship due to COVID-19. Many in the industry have donated and the total currently stands at almost $300,000. To contact the organisation for help and support call 0508 MUSICHELPS or through an online form on the Backline webpage. Applications for grants opened on 20th April.

Creative New Zealand’s Emergency Response Package, a $16 million investment, opened for applications from 14 April and these will be distributed to the sector through to 30 June 2020. A second phase will provide support beyond June 2020. The package features resilience grants to top up the government’s COVID19 wage subsidy and is eligible to people involved in organising arts projects including producers, stage managers and technicians.

Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company, has established Crew Nation, a charitable fund to which it is contributing an initial $5 million donation, to help support concert crews around the world. It will then match the next $5 million given by artists, fans and employees dollar for dollar. USD$1000 grants are available via an online form for international applicants to complete. Donations can also be made via PayPal.

Data Collection
Getting accurate figures is vital to get a greater understanding of the shape and scope of the impact, and for organisations to lobby government and for publicity. There are a number of organisations currently collating information:

  • For the music industry: APRA AMCOS NZ, NZ Music Commission, IMNZ, MMF NZ, MusicHelps NZ, NZ On Air, Recorded Music NZ, and Te Mangai Paho have an online form ‘I Lost My Gig’. One form covers Australia and New Zealand, and one just New Zealand.

  • For the entertainment technology sector: ETNZ have put out two surveys to date to capture the situation. Join the organisation for free to receive monthly newsletters with updates on the survey findings.

Photo Credit: Logan Weaver

Virtual / Social Networks

Entertainment Technology NZ (ETNZ) has a page on their website dedicated to COVID-19 resources and a Facebook page with regular updates. Sign up to their newsletter to receive regular emails.

Performing Arts Network of NZ (PANNZ) is holding a weekly online hui to hear from arts leaders such as David Inns, Chief Executive of Auckland Arts Festival, Tama Waipara, Executive and Artistic Director of Te Tairāwhiti Arts Festival and Executive Director of NZ Festival of the Arts, Meg Williams. These regular hui offer an opportunity for people to gather remotely, connect, ask questions and get up to date as a community. They are facilitated by Barbarian Productions’ artistic director, Jo Randerson. Find out more information on their Facebook Page.

Aotearoa Arts & Events During the COVID-19 Crisis have a webpage and very active Facebook Group. They are organising Learning Lunches that are live and archived on YouTube and have included a session on financial stability and on well-being. Posts are sorted into units for ease of access and include Getting Financially Stable, Maori/Oceania/First Nations, Getting By & Survival, Engaging with Audiences and Planning For the Future.

Professional Development
If your head is in the right place, now is the right time to look into professional development and see if you can access it for free or subsidised – and invite a friend to do it with you.

Entertainment Technology NZ (ETNZ)

  • 100 Scholarships are available for the NZ Certificate in Entertainment and Event Operations, Level 3. This Scholarship will cover the cost of the qualification and the assessment. ETNZ will also offer a series of regional workshops delivered through venues to provide training for the Level 3 Qualification. These optional workshops are designed to work through all the material required to attain Level 3.

  • The ETNZ website also hosts a webpage with a regularly updated list of professional development opportunities.

ETC are offering an array of courses, webinars and YouTube videos. Follow their Facebook page for more information and visit their Learning Stage page on their website for free online programmes.

Vectorworks are offering free online seminars for a time. Visit their website.

Strand Lighting have waived costs for Neo console. See their website for more information.

NSL Group are offering free webinars across a host of subjects.

CX Magazine – May 2020   

Entertainment technology news and issues for Australia and New Zealand
– in print and free online

Main photo: Anastasiia Chepinska

© VCS Creative Publishing


Published monthly since 1991, our famous AV industry magazine is free for download or pay for print. Subscribers also receive CX News, our free weekly email with the latest industry news and jobs.