What will the path back to normal look like? There’s an interesting road out of lockdown into that thriving Melbourne music scene from pre-pandemic days.
As it currently stands, Melburnians are days away from reaching the 90% vaccination rate, with 92.6 per cent of the population aged 12-years and over having received at least one dose. This rate is being heralded as the time when things will approach normality in the music world.
According to Victorian Health this marks a day where; “Venues can operate at maximum capacity subject to vaccination requirements and COVIDSafe measures”.
Stay up to date with what’s happening in Melbourne here.
But what does this actually mean for music venues across our state? With many still trading uncharted waters, it’s left many venues to their own devices and call on help from one another about where to start.
“What I’m finding is that I’m having to reach out to other stakeholders in the industry, and to other businesses, and ask ‘How are you guys doing it? How are you managing it?’,” Brunswick Ballroom co-director Will Ewing says.
There is some noticeable trepidation about what the reopening will actually look like, with Will suggesting a digital generic rulebook of sorts, a guidebook or clear instructions needed for venues across Victoria as they navigate through this tricky reopening period.
“Our events co-ordinator said it’d be great if we received a handbook that just said this is what you have to do, something like, here’s A, B and C for hospitality and events venues.”
“It’s a digital copy, you can read it, it’s six pages and outlines the steps that you have to do, it’s all pretty straightforward.”
There still a limited amount of clarity what the future will look like for venues – with the roadmap specifying that there will still be ‘COVIDSafe measure in place’, it’s unclear whether this will mean seating is still required, or socially distanced.
“There are some grey areas and nuances to everything, so detailed rules would be wonderful.”
With the restrictions recently being released for further reopening, some specific rules have come out for the live music scene. Indoor live music venues will allow patrons to stand, but still with the one person per 4sqm rule.
With the marker taking place shortly, it may still be a few weeks before we get back to normal gig rosters and shows.
“Rehearsal studios couldn’t open, so artists haven’t played for two and half months or so,” Ewing added, which may delay band shows for a few more weeks.
Many people within the industry agree on the idea Will brings across of some consultation between the government and industry leaders as things start to open up.
“There’s so many little things that get published, there’s backflips of policy, which make it really hard for us to program and schedule,” he continued. “So, I suppose a consistent strong message and constant consultation with industry would be what we’d like.”
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With Melbourne’s frequent movement in and out of lockdown, there has been a number of incarnations of the live music scene’s return with limited capacities, socially distant seated gig and early and late shows, leaving Melbourne gig-goers aching for a normal live concert.
There’s a hope that people will take their time with hospitality staff – dealing with an industry-wide staff shortage – while they still learn the ropes.
“My major concern, and this is a message we’re being very clear with on our socials is, we’re trudging into a brand new world, we just ask that punters and patrons are kind and considerate to the frontline hospitality staff that will be asking to see your vaccination passport,” Ewing continued.
“They’ll be asking for you to check in, and as you sit back and enjoy your cocktails, enjoy your beer, pleasure ensure you’re considerate to those who are making this dream a reality.
There’s undoubtedly a rocky road out of lockdown back to one form of normal, it’s new territory for everyone.
“We’re entering uncharted territory, we as a venue are just trying to play by the rules,” Ewing continued. “Our staff are just trying to enforce those rules. Our main thing is that if you believe in those rules or don’t believe in them, just have some kindness and compassion for those who actually enforce them. We’re only trying to endeavour to keep the community safe.”
Brunswick Ballroom is coming back with a bang with a number of shows as things start to open up in the music world, you can catch acts like Wil Wagner, Kim Salmon, Tripod and Dami Im at shows over the next couple of months.
Book in tickets and check out all the gigs happening at Brunswick Ballroom here.