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Save SA's Leading Live Music Venue "The Gov" from Permanent Closure

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Adelaide is a world leading music city, and home to an eclectic variety of musical talent, festivals, and venues including the multi-award winning Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, better known by everyone as “The Gov.” The Gov’s Live Music events bolster the States national and international music industry connections, making it a major player in South Australia becoming a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.  Adelaide is the first, and only, designated UNESCO City of Music in Australia, an acknowledgement of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s music culture, its international reach, its history and its aspirations.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of our community; The Gov will play a major role in helping our tourism industry to recover. In 2014, total employment from making live music in SA was estimated at 4,100 jobs; South Australian ticket sales for music events totalled $59.7 million, live music contributed $263.7 million to South Australia's economy. The cultural and creative sector plays a vital part in our countries economy, contributing $112 billion – just over 6 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product every year. 

The Tonkin family has worked tirelessly for over 25 years to build this business, and loyal customer base. The venue is unique, as it facilitates connection and collaboration, whilst supporting a diverse range of musicians, and fostering a life-long love for, and engagement with music within our entire community. The venue runs on the marginal profit that is mainly derived from National and International touring acts each year, income that was literally cut overnight in March when social distancing restrictions forced them to close as a result of the necessary trade, travel and social gathering restrictions imposed to help limit its spread.

As you are well aware, the lifting of lockdown restrictions will be a gradual process done with the greatest caution, and the entertainment industry will be among the last to return to pre-lockdown operations. Even after the lifting of domestic travel, which in itself will take time, international travel will likely take much longer, these factors will attribute to a continued loss of income for a significantly longer period than many other businesses.

The venue owners cannot afford to soak up the financial impact COVID-19 is having on their income source. Brian Tonkin, advised on air during the ABC’s morning program last week, that he estimates being able to hang in for another 3 months at most before having no choice but sell. The current initiatives including the $10,000 cash grants, designed to help cover a business’ ongoing or outstanding operating costs, such as rent, power bills, supplier and raw materials costs and other fees, won’t cover a month of this venues utilities alone. The $1500-a-fortnight Job Keeper wage subsidy program enables them to pay their staff, but without financial assistance for the venue itself, there will not be a job for those staff to return to. Immediate financial assistance is needed to save them from having to sell the business, and to be able to operate on the other side.

Funding is urgently needed to replace some of the lost revenue to help pay for the costs associated with maintaining a venue that is unable to operate for at least the next 6 months. It will also assist them to be able to continue to support our local music industry and artists once they are able to reopen. Without help, The Gov will join the list of Covid-19 related lost venues here in South Australia, a list that started to appear last week when the Kings Head Hotel announced that they were going in to liquidation, followed this week by the Cumberland Hotel being put on the market for sale, both venues being major supporters of Live Music hosting weekly events.

South Australians "Love The Gov”, in fact this venue is well loved and respected not only here, but interstate, and overseas as well. Our State cannot afford to lose a venue that has played host to some of the biggest national and international acts over the years, such a loss would be a catastrophe that undoubtedly will hold a negative effect on our UNESCO City of Music membership, and the South Australian community for many years to come. The future of the Arts within the "Festival State" was already of concern, after Premier Steven Marshall dismantled Arts SA in 2018, and provided no funding commitments when these changes were reviewed last year, despite the Australian Government overseeing $749 million in annual arts funding. 

We call on the Premier of South Australia Steven Marshall, to show his commitment to the local music industry by making the survival of The Gov his top priority, allocating funding to assist this local business throughout the greatest economic challenge of our time, by helping to ease their cash flow burden at a time when they need it most, ensuring that they can stay afloat during this pandemic and beyond. Without an immediate cash lifeline from the Marshall Liberal Government, the venue is destined to become another victim of this Global Coronavirus pandemic. 

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