Body formed to restart Australia’s sports and entertainment sectors

Leading live sports and entertainment businesses in Australia have joined forces to create the Live Entertainment Industry Forum (LEIF), which will look to ensure fans can return safely to events following the shutdown of the industry due to COVID-19.

LEIF’s executive committee includes the bosses of TEG, Live Nation, Frontier Touring, Chugg Entertainment, AEG, WME, the Melbourne Cricket Ground (pictured), the Sydney Cricket Ground, Marvel Stadium, Melbourne Olympic Parks, Adelaide Oval, ASM Global, Venues West, Venues Live, Michael Cassel Group, Live Performance Australia, Venue Management Association and the Australian Festivals Association.

The aim of LEIF will be to support the safe reactivation of events with live audiences across Australia, with restrictions set to be eased from next month. The group will develop a comprehensive, flexible, all-of-industry reopening and risk management strategy that will meet the needs of the public, governments and sporting bodies alike.

James Sutherland, the former chief executive of Cricket Australia, will serve as the chair of LEIF and oversee the body’s strategy. Sutherland left Cricket Australia in October 2018 after 17 years leading the organisation.

LEIF will seek to develop measures regarding cleaning and sanitisation, crowd management, physical distancing plans, health monitoring and contact tracing. LEIF’s objective will be to safely restart Australia’s live entertainment industry, which supports over 175,000 jobs in the country and feeds other sectors affected by COVID-19.

Sutherland said: “This pandemic has brought our industry to a complete standstill. The thousands of cancelled sporting events, concerts, festivals, theatre, family and comedy shows, and all the associated revenues related to them, can never be replaced.

“Our industry was the first to close during COVID-19 and it will be one of the last to fully re-open. The cultural, creative and sports industries support the livelihoods of around 175,000 Australians, many of whom are casual or part time. The industry also contributes an estimated A$150bn (£82bn/€92bn/$104bn) to the Australian economy.

“Our live events have a huge economic flow-on effect: we support jobs in airlines and other transport companies, hotels, pubs, restaurants and retail establishments of all sizes all over Australia.

“We need a clear roadmap to get our industry back to work, while playing a bigger role in the post-COVID-19 economic recovery of our nation. We are committed to working with all states and territories, especially with their chief medical and health officers. We will develop COVIDSafe best practices and a world-leading response to revive our industry, get people back to work and bring fans back together throughout Australia through the unbeatable power of live events.”

Last week, LPA proposed a A$345m plan to support the arts and entertainment industry recovery. The peak body for Australia’s live performance industry detailed how its recommended government-funded targeted aid package would be divided up if approved.

LEIF executive committee members also include:

·      Andrew Daniels, chief executive, Adelaide Oval SMA

·      Daryl Kerry, chief executive, ANZ Stadium, Venues Live

·      David Etherton, chief executive, Venues West

·      Dion Brant, chief operating officer, Frontier Touring/Chugg Entertainment/AEG Live

·      Evelyn Richardson, chief executive, Live Performance Australia

·      Geoff Jones, chief executive, TEG/TEG Dainty/Ticketek

·      Harvey Lister, chairman and chief executive, ASM Global

·      John Harnden, chief executive, Melbourne & Olympic Parks

·      Julia Robinson, chief executive, Australian Festival Association

·      Kerrie Mather, chief executive, SCG Trust

·      Michael Cassel, chief executive/producer, Michael Cassel Group

·      Roger Field, chief executive, Live Nation Australasia

·      Steve Harper, chair, Venue Management Association

·      Stuart Fox, chief executive, Melbourne Cricket Club/Melbourne Cricket Ground

·      Travis Auld, chief financial officer and general manager of clubs and broadcasting, AFL

Image: Richard Munckton