Regional entertainment venues and companies are unable to recover effectively and even losing money due to continued coronavirus lockdowns and restrictions.
Arena Theatre Company was due to open a tour of its show Robot Song the day Victoria's latest lockdown took effect. The lockdown meant the company lost $40,000.
Arena executive director Sharon Custers the Bendigo season of Robot Song - with more than 1000 tickets sold - was also postponed due to schools unable to take excursions.
She said 2021 was proving more difficult than 2020 for the arts and entertainment sector.
"We have had quite a bit of support last year but that has evaporated in terms of this year," she said.
"Financially, we are worse off than last year. We already had expenses for paying actors and crew for two weeks of rehearsal (and) lost $40,000 just from starting that tour and not being able to tour it.
"Last year we knew we weren't touring... we were able to plan further ahead and also had jobkeeper to help keep staff employed and work on other things online programming.
"This year we are working hard to get up and running and had actually started a tour. (But) now the atmosphere more uncertain."
Theatre Royal co-owner Tim Heath said without the hospitality aspect operating during lockdowns and restrictions, the Castlemaine venue would likely have closed.
"We were lucky we were able to sell takeaway pizza and alcohol," he said. "That kept us and our permanent staff employed.
"We were able to keep doors open with a hospitality offering but (you) could imagine a venue relying on just music and bar sales, that would be devastating. I spoke to a lot of friends who are older and more experienced than me and everyone's advice was any income was good income."
As well as working to stay afloat, the entertainment venues and companies are continually forced to reschedule their bookings when crowd capacity restrictions or lockdowns are in place.
Mr Heath said he worried what effect that would have on the regional entertainment industry.
"In terms of gigs, it is incredibly frustrating trying to reschedule everything," he said. "It's not just about capacity but also bands' choices or decisions. In Melbourne, you will see venues closing and that will have a ripple effect to regional areas.
"If bands stop touring to places like Castlemaine and Bendigo, we are looking at having local bands only, which is great and we love our local bands but there is only so many gigs they can play."
Arena Theatre Company had already moved much of its 2020 program into this year's program, meaning they had twice as much to reschedule after the last lockdown.
"The lockdowns have really thrown things a loop," Ms Custers said. "We know there is not going to be certainty in terms of lockdowns but it would be great to feel like we can see the light at the end of tunnel in terms the vaccine rollout and have an idea when can plan for certainty.
"For us, financial support that matches our losses would also be great. (Financial support) is there but it's not enough. It would great to be able to have jobkeeper for this time. It really saved our industry. (Operating) without that safety net means we have difficult decisions to make."
Mr Heath said how the etnertainment industry's landscape looks following the pandemic will be interesting.
"It will be fascinating to see how music the industry looks when the vaccine roll out is done," he said. "What (will it) mean for whole of Victoria's music economy?
"Having good bands playing bigger shows and touring is a great opportunity for regional fans to enjoy music but it is also great for the regional economy because people come to towns for the shows and spend money in cafes, accommodation and shops.
"In some ways we are definitely worse off, in other ways we are more adept coping with changes. It has been tricky but when you connect with others, you realise everyone is in the same boat and you feel like you're all in this together. It's just about staying positive."
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