Melbourne entered its fourth lockdown in 14 months at the end of May. But unlike previous lockdowns where JobKeeper was guaranteed, this time around we had no security. Melbourne’s nightclubs stood silent on a Thursday night when they would usually be packed with clubbers. The only lines we were waiting in were at the local cafés to grab our morning coffee and the only live music we were listening to is what we heard our neighbours singing. The nightlife industry was essentially shut down and with Government funding gone, the industry was at risk of not being able to survive the fourth lockdown.
Nightclubs are important in terms of their economic footprint and employment. Being shut down for any period of time is a massive financial burden on everyone employed in the nightlife industry. They are among the hardest hit by the pandemic, especially because of the social distancing measures. Unlike the first lockdown, where the cultural and creative sectors were essentially ignored, this time the Victorians Government quickly announced a series of grants to help venue owners, performers and the entire clubbing world get through yet another lockdown.
For the live performers, a grant of $500 per cancelled event was offered. This list doesn’t just include DJs and musicians but also crew, merchandise sellers, technicians and engineers. For venues hosting those performances, they would be eligible for up to $7000. Although it doesn’t recoup what they had the potential to make, at least nightclub venues can use these grants to pay their rent and full-time staff. They also have the option of re-scheduling performances, which gives them the potential for extra income when the performance goes ahead. Nightclub venues are also potentially eligible for another grant under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund. Grants of $7,000 per premises in metropolitan Melbourne will be available to them if they qualify.
In early May, it seemed like we were back on track. We could go out for a drink to hear our favourite DJ play and Melbourne CBD was as busy as it gets. Now that the fourth lockdown’s restrictions are still in effect, nightclubs are only allowed a certain number of people inside at a time. Although some venues may not be reaching their full capacity, qualifying for these grants and helps keep them treading water for now and the extra support the Victorian Government is offering means businesses have a chance to recover once their doors reopen.
As well as helping businesses directly with these grants, the Victorian Government is also helping them indirectly by launching a new $8.4 million dining initiative. They’re encouraging people to head into the city and provide much-needed support for our hospitality sector. Melbourne’s residents who spend between $50 and $500 in Melbourne’s restaurants, nightclubs and bars can now claim a 20 per cent rebate on their total food and drink bill.
Even with the Government’s funding, supporting our favourite nightclubs is more important than ever. Lucky Thursdays are the best nightclub to celebrate the end of lockdown! The music is pumping, and drinks are flowing every Thursday night from 10 pm until late. Show your support for their exclusive resident DJs by adding yourself and your friends to their guestlist and dance the night away. Say hi to the bar staff while you’re there and ask them about their weekly drink specials.