More than 400 Australian performers have joined forces with leaders of the live entertainment industry for a national campaign urging people to get vaccinated against coronavirus.
The #VaxTheNation campaign launches across Australia on September 6.Credit:
Featuring images of outdoor music festivals, big crowds, smiling fans and the song My Happiness by Powderfinger, the #VaxTheNation campaign begins Monday on television and aims to ‘stop the interruptions’ and open up the nation’s devastated entertainment sector. Live events have been crushed since lockdowns came into effect in March last year and, according to the newly established LIVE Alliance, a vaccination target of 80 per cent is the ticket back to live performances.
LIVE Alliance (Live Industry Venues and Entertainment) includes representatives from ARIA, Live Performance Australia, Australian Festival Association, Live Nation, Frontier Touring, the Mushroom Group and TEG.
Tim Minchin is among hundreds of performers supporting the new #VaxTheNation campaign.Credit:Damian Bennett
Paul Kelly, Amy Shark, Jimmy Barnes, Midnight Oil, Ocean Alley, G Flip, Celeste Barber and Troy Cassar-Daley are among hundreds of artists, bands and performers supporting #VaxTheNation – lending their voices to a coalition of tour promoters, ticketing agencies, theatre, opera and dance companies, industry associations and peak bodies.
“The impact of the pandemic on Australia’s world-leading music, theatre, comedy and live entertainment industries has been truly devastating,” said LIVE Alliance members in a statement. “Getting vaccinated is the crucial step fans can take which will allow us to join together and enjoy the unbeatable magic of live performance once again.”
We need a society where we commune, where we can rejoice in culture …
Composer, songwriter and actor Tim Minchin said the nation needs “a wave of positive messaging” around vaccination and a reminder that we’re all members of the same society, with a common goal.
“Having the entertainment industry talk about how important it is that we can gather again and trying to de-complicate it matters,” Minchin said. “We’ve got so much information and because we’re all a bit stuck and feeling anxious, clarity of messaging is difficult and that’s what I love about this campaign … that’s what they’ve got right.
“We need a society where we commune, where we can rejoice in culture and this campaign is playing its part in a big jigsaw puzzle of voices. We’re not a divided nation. We’ve all just got to contribute and do our little bit to get everything back on board.”
Media personality and businessman Russel Howcroft has overseen #VaxTheNation from the initial concept. The campaign primarily targets those people who attend live entertainment and was created by Mushroom and Good One Creative.
“We have managed to pull together a powerful campaign via generosity of spirit and a burning desire to rock on,” Howcroft said. “Huge thanks in particular to Powderfinger and the inspired leadership of the LIVE steering committee.”
Australian Festival Association general manager Julia Robinson said the ongoing lockdowns were “heartbreaking for the industry but also really heartbreaking for the fans” of live entertainment. “We need people to go out and get that shot, get the jab, so we can get back to business,” she said.
“As we’ve seen overseas, people are getting back out there … they’re back to some sort of normal life and that’s what we want to see. We’ve been switched off for 18 months, but we’ve got amazing brands that bring festivals to the country every year [and] there’s an opportunity to really nourish new ideas and work with the regional areas as well.”
Musician Mark Seymour said the music business “has been smashed” and called upon fans to get vaccinated – not only for their health but for workers across the live events industry.
“The more vaccinated we are, the bigger crowds can be and the sooner live music can get back on its feet,” Seymour said. “Please consider the artists you love and the thousands of workers who make the gigs happen. Show your support and get it done.”
Archie Roach compared the battle to beat coronavirus with a boxing match. “A few well-placed jabs can keep your opponent at bay,” he said, “so let’s get the jab to fight COVID-19 so we can get back to what we love doing.”
ARIA chief executive officer Annabelle Herd told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald there is a path forward for live entertainment, but that vaccine passports were not yet being canvassed by LIVE Alliance. “The bottom line is without vaccination it doesn’t happen at all,” she said. “You don’t even have those discussions until you’ve got that minimum level of vaccination rate.”
Sophie Payten, aka Gordi, wants to see a return to live entertainment venues around the country.Credit:Kristoffer Paulsen
“If we get vaccination levels up, and we have to, then we could be in for an amazing period of live music in this country,” Herd said. “What we want to do with this campaign is remind people how great life is when you can go to live music, those magic moments of singing along with thousands of people to your favourite track, or dancing until dawn at a club or at a festival.”
TEG managing director Tim McGregor said current outbreaks made it “incredibly challenging if not impossible” to see live events taking place, but reaching 80 per cent vaccination was the key to international and domestic tours being staged next year.
“It’s very clear what has been communicated from National Cabinet and the Doherty Institute about what they need to see before it’s sensible and feasible to start opening up … where mass gatherings can happen, venues are reopened and we’re getting on with live entertainment,” he said.
“It’s in our hands … it’s our message as an industry to say we really need fans to go and get vaccinated so we can get back to what we love doing.”
Gordi, whose second album Our Two Skins received an ARIA nomination last year, encouraged music fans to get vaccinated and get back to “some of the most beautiful music venues in the world” close to home. “Right now, they’re empty,” she said. “If you’re eligible to be vaccinated, please go get a jab. Then we can get back to filling these beautiful spaces again.”
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance chief executive Paul Murphy said the shared experience of live performance is essential to rebuilding the sense of community that’s been lost through isolation and lockdowns.
“It can only happen when enough of us are vaccinated to make it safe to open venues,” Murphy said. “Performers, crew, front of house and others working in live events are looking forward to once again delivering joy to audiences, and we urge all Australians to get themselves vaccinated as soon as possible.”
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