Australia is facing a shortage of live music this summer, with concerts and festivals unlikely to return in “a major way” until the end of 2022, the industry’s peak body says.
- Major acts like Billie Eilish and Dua Lipa are expected to tour Australia at the end of 2022
- The Australian Ballet opened its first show since lockdown at Sydney’s Opera House this week
- Artistic director David Hallberg said there had been some hesitancy at the box office
Live Performance Australia CEO Evelyn Richardson said the nation’s cautious reopening to the world had left promoters unable to secure many of the international acts currently on tour in North America and Europe.
“We’ve missed the opportunity to bring in a lot of our international touring acts for this summer, and with our domestic artists, many of those are touring internationally so we haven’t got those people touring either,” Ms Richardson said.
“We probably won’t see live music come back in a major way until later 2022.”
Some big hitters including Kings of Leon, KISS, and Rod Stewart will be performing in Australia early next year, while the likes of Billie Eilish, Tame Impala and Dua Lipa are expected in the second half of 2022.
The Splendour in the Grass festival will return in July at North Byron Parklands with Gorillaz, The Strokes and Tyler, the Creator all headlining.
Ms Richardson said while the live music industry had been disproportionately affected by COVID, dance and theatre productions were showing strong returns.
This week the Australian Ballet opened its first show since lockdown at Sydney’s Opera House.
The company will then perform to a home crowd at Melbourne’s State Theatre for the first time in almost two years.
Despite the excitement, artistic director David Hallberg said there had been some hesitancy at the box office.
“There has been a bit of hesitancy because people have weathered this pandemic, and they have uncertainty about going out into crowds and audiences,” he said.
Even with caution, Mr Hallberg is convinced they’ll bounce back.
“There’s been a surge of energy to get back to live art — people can only Netflix for so long,” he said.
Sydney Dance Company’s artistic director has described a similar optimism — so much so that they tripled dates for the current New Breed performance.
“I think there’s a hunger for coming into the theatre and sharing that very special thing that happens when you’re watching artists,” artistic director Rafael Bonachela said.
New Breed is a program that gives emerging choreographers an opportunity to produce works with the company.
The latest lockdown meant Jasmin Sheppard was one of four chosen choreographers who conceptualised their work on Zoom — directing tiny digital bodies from kitchen tables.
“It’s definitely different,” Ms Shephard laughed.
“There are constraints, but I feel like as artists we’re hugely adaptable.”
While working separately and outside of a studio setting was far from ideal, the company’s artistic director said it was more important than ever to invest in emerging artists.
“There’s a lot of artists and a lot of technical staff that have gone into other careers entirely because of the lockdown,” Mr Bonachela said.
“Now, more than ever, after this global pandemic that we have all been through, it is so important to invest in the talent of the future.”
Evelyn Richardson agreed, stating concerns about a skills shortage that could last years.
“It could be five years until we see the industry operating at pre-COVID levels and that’s because we’ve just lost so many skilled people,” she said.