With venues closed and gatherings banned, there's no denying that the live entertainment industry has been one of the most impacted. According to I Lost My Gig Australia, within the first 24 hours of the website launch alone, there were $25 million reported in lost income across the creative industry, from musicians and spoken word poets to production crew and festival operators, and the number just keeps rising.
Those who love the performing arts may be wondering how to support their favourite artists and organisations during this time. We've rounded up some ways to show your solidarity and get the message out.
This is probably the biggest and most immediate way to contribute – by helping to patch the hole left by cancelled gigs and performances. Whether you do it by donating to a charity, paying for a ticket to a virtual event or buying band merchandise, there are plenty of ways to channel your funds.
Support Act, delivering crisis relief services to artists, crew and music workers, was established in 1997 and provides financial assistance, a wellbeing helpline, fundraising services and more. Check out the different ways to donate here. Or, donate directly to their Covid-19 emergency appeal here. You can also purchase an SOS tee for $35 featuring unique artwork, with funds going to Support Act.
Victorian Actors' Benevolent Trust, Actors Benevolent Fund of NSW and Actors' and Entertainers' Benevolent Fund of QLD are three other charities that offer emergency financial help to actors and crews.
Organisations and companies
If you're a ticketholder for an event that got cancelled or postponed, consider holding onto your ticket rather than requesting a refund. Some event organisers are automatically refunding tickets, so if this isn't an option, you can donate to the company online. Many arts companies, such as Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, The Australian Ballet and Opera Australia, allow for tax-deductible donations; most are providing digital content to stream for free to keep the creative arts industry alive during these tough times.
Other venues and festivals have adapted their events for a digital platform, offering tickets to online performances. Melbourne Digital Concert Hall, for example, charges $20 (+$4 admin fee) per ticket and enables you to watch your chosen concert live, with the full $20 going to the artist. The Yarra Valley Writers Festival will offer a full day of streaming on 9 May with some of Australia's top writers and presenters including Tony Birch, Charlotte Wood, Michael Veitch and Donna Ward; sign up for their festival news for updates.
If there are any events, seasons or festivals that make it into your calendar every year, check out their website to see whether tickets to online events are available – now, more than ever, is when they'll need your support.
If you follow your favourite band or musician on social media, you'll probably already know how you can help them out financially right now. For most of them, merchandise is a pretty immediate investment you can make; The Sound of Silence has a list of artists and groups, and direct links to their online stores, offering t-shirts and vinyls. If merch isn't your thing, consider supporting them as you would normally – through Patreon, by purchasing their records or streaming their music on your preferred platform, whether that's Bandcamp, Spotify or Apple.
There are some pretty great initiatives out there, connecting audiences with new acts you might never have heard of. Live: From Your Living Room is a variety show with new episodes streaming every fortnight, featuring comedians, actors and musicians. Your donated funds are distributed evenly among the artists featured in that episode. Another variety show, Cooped-Up Cabaret offers a pay-to-view model, featuring any combination of magic, comedy, burlesque and aerials, among others.
One of our personal favourite comedians is Jan Van de Stool, whose Coronavlog streams a new episode every Friday. For $1.98, you can buy yourself ten minutes of side-splitting entertainment and some dubious health advice. Another is Pam Ann, a celebrity air hostess with acerbic wit, who will be performing live online throughout April.
Those of us who aren't in a position to help out financially can give a virtual thumbs up by following artists, musicians and organisations on whatever platform they have a digital presence. While this may seem like a small gesture, every like and share is validation that their work is being seen and heard. Plus, even if you don't have the funds right now, your mate who you shared the content with just might.
Isol-aid Festival is an Instagram Live festival that happens every weekend, showcasing local talent. Check out the line-up and schedule, then head over to the artist's Instagram page to catch them live.
Other ways to help
The leaders in the live entertainment industry have all agreed that without financial stimulus, the consequences for the arts would be severe. There's a petition calling for the government to step in with financial aid, that you can sign here. You can also write to your state and federal MP with a templated letter.