8 Sep 2021
NZ Comedy Trust calls for increased support for live performance under new Alert Level Two guidelines
Thanks to our robust Covid-19 response efforts, New Zealanders have been privileged to attend many live events over the last 18 months. The Delta variant has required us to double down on those efforts to stamp out this current outbreak and the NZ Comedy Trust who produce the NZ International Comedy Festival strongly supports the Government’s elimination strategy, which has seen us return to relative normalcy while the pandemic continues to rage offshore.
However, the updated guidelines for Alert Level Two will have a significant impact on the comedy industry, and all who work in the live events sector. Reducing indoor gathering limits to 50 people with physical distancing means that most live events are no longer financially viable at Alert Level Two.
During previous outbreaks we have rewritten the rule book to adapt to restrictions and presented shows safely, while continuing to support New Zealand artists, crew, venues and staff. The new restrictions, while necessary, make it near impossible to plan ahead for the future. After the extreme uncertainty of the past 18 months, the entire sector has been stretched to breaking point and requires targeted support.
We are calling on the government to:
- Extend the Wage Subsidy Scheme to live events workers and artists under Alert Level Two, recognising that our work is not able to be safely carried out under the new guidelines.
- Provide specific funding to Creative New Zealand to offer (or another organisation to provide) additional financial support to artists and organisations until live events are able to resume at full capacity.
While New Zealanders are doing it tough, we look to our comics for laughter, connection and an escape from a challenging reality. Our artists work continues to be essential for our wellbeing, as it has been throughout the pandemic. Now, when our artists are hurting and staring into an uncertain future, we need the Government to provide this vital support. Live gigs are the lifeblood of the comedy industry and many venues across the country.
We support the increased restrictions keeping us safe from the Delta variant, but we must make sure that our live events industry is not decimated in the process. This will ensure our sector is still standing when we are able to return to venues around Aotearoa and share the joy of live performance with all New Zealanders once again.