Victorian events in 'desperate situation'

Run Melbourne was due to go ahead with about 17,000 participants on Sunday, but is now cancelled.
Run Melbourne was due to go ahead with about 17,000 participants on Sunday, but is now cancelled.

Victoria's struggling event scene fears lingering COVID restrictions from the latest lockdown will continue to wreak havoc on the industry.

As many events were starting to get back up and running again, the fifth lockdown was announced last week and then extended.

Even if Victoria comes out of lockdown next week, restrictions impacting events will likely remain in place for several weeks.

"It's a pretty desperate situation," Save Victorian Events group co-founder Simon Thewlis told AAP.

"In Victoria, our industry has effectively been shut for the last eight weeks. Just as we were about to start to have some events, we got whacked with lockdown five and we're back to square one again."

On Wednesday, Major Events Minister Martin Pakula announced up to $25,000 each for eligible events and $10,000 for public event suppliers through an extension of the Impacted Public Events Support Program.

"We're making sure the businesses most affected by the lockdown have a chance to emerge from it in decent shape, so they can continue to play their vital role as employers and drivers of Victoria's economy," he said.

However, it only extends to events with more than 1000 people.

"For the majority of the event industry there is nothing there for them," Mr Thewlis says.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien says the state government "don't seem to care about the little guy" when making funding decisions.

"There are so many communities in Victoria who are seeing their events close down because of these lockdowns," he said.

"Because they're small towns, small communities often they've got no financial resources to fall back on, and if their events are shutdown that can be the end of these organisations.

"It's time for the government to stop looking at the big end of town."

Run Melbourne was due to go ahead with about 17,000 participants on Sunday, but had to be cancelled on Tuesday when the lockdown was extended.

Organiser Terry O'Halloran says the financial support offered for event organisers is a "fairly narrow criteria" but he's hopeful it will be broadened to include more events over a longer time frame.

"The other thing we'd obviously like to see is higher levels of vaccinations, and then some sort of passport system where, if you are fully vaccinated, you're able to participate in outdoor events," Mr O'Halloran told AAP.

Asked about the struggling events sector during Wednesday's COVID update, chief health officer Brett Sutton said Victoria was considering rapid testing for events, but it was not perfect.

"There are individuals who fake their tests. There are individuals who get tested, are negative within 24 hours, but become infectious at the time that they attend," he said.

The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance's Adam Portelli says lockdowns in three states have brought performing arts live events to a standstill.

He says while casual or permanent workers may be able to claim government support, "freelancers who make up a large proportion of the arts workforce find themselves in the same situation as last year, forgotten and neglected by the federal government."

A federal government spokeswoman did not address what support was on offer for freelancers but said it was investing $1 billion into the arts and creative sector this financial year.

Australian Associated Press