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Why Your Favourite Live Music Venue Might Be About To Shut

19 July 2022 | 12:35 pm | Brenton Harris

The grassroots of Australian Music is facing its next and potentially most destructive crisis since COVID: Insurance - or more to the point - a lack of insurance.

(Mitch Fresta)

Following the devastating impact of the pandemic that saw many beloved venues close for good. The grassroots of Australian Music is facing its next and potentially most destructive crisis since COVID: Insurance - or more to the point - a lack of insurance. 

Hundreds of small to medium live music venues around the country are facing closure because insurance companies are no longer offering Public Liability Insurance coverage for live music - or are offering premiums that will force venues to close their doors. 

In a perfect storm of factors like fire, flood, and the war in Ukraine, live music venues have been caught up in a global trend of insurers not wanting to take on customers they see as too risky.

Joe Downey, the owner of the Leadbeater Hotel in Melbourne whose venue narrowly escaped permanent closure, knows the shock and the impact of the insurance crisis intimately. 

"We just had to close our doors", "We’d been with our insurer for years, without any issues, but when it came time to renew our policy they said they were no longer offering coverage for live music venues… and without insurance, we had to close."

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After a public campaign the Leadbeater found an insurer at the eleventh hour, but the eye-watering increase of 1,100% in their premium, has saddled the venue with a financial burden that will make it difficult to survive over the coming year.

"Sadly, the Leadbeater is not alone, we’re aware of many more cases like this and have a test group of 30 venues we are working with to try and get a solution over the line - something that will work for the hundreds more we know are in the firing line as their insurance comes up for renewal,” says Stephen Wade, Chairperson of the Australian Live Music Business Council.

Action needs to be taken in order to stop more of the venues that are essential to the live music scene in Australia join the likes of Fremantle's The Aardvark, Melbourne's John Curtain, Newcastle's Cambridge Hotel,  Brisbane's The Roxy or these three Sydney venues on the closure list. 

With so many venues now on the endangered list,  the Australian Live Music Business Council is working with stakeholders across the music, hotels and insurance industries to produce a solution to the insurance crisis, but says they’ll need the entire live music sector to get behind the project if they’re going to get the solution venues desperately need.

"We have been working for around 5 months on a solution now, talking to insurers both here and offshore, but our biggest hurdle is getting enough venues on board to get an insurer interested - and to get premiums at rates that won’t kill our venues”. 

So why aren’t more venues involved in the project? Wade says that a lack of awareness around this issue means that venues only find out they’re in trouble when they go to renew their policy. Wade says they need venues to get involved with the project now - not wait until it’s too late and face having to close their doors.

Venues looking to get involved in the ALMBC’s insurance project can complete an Expression of Interest form now.