June 16, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

While it seems that the Victorian State Government has its intentions in the right place in terms of its $20 million package to support the events industry after the state’s latest lockdown, the eligibility for the funding released yesterday demonstrates it has a way to go in understanding the industry and therefore, how to effectively help it.

The $20 million of funding has been broken down into four streams – only one of which is likely to benefit those in the business events space: the Sustainable Events Business Program, the Impacted Public Events Support Program, the Live Performance Support Program and the Independent Cinemas Support Program.

The Sustainable Events Business Program – the one most likely to be leveraged by business events operators (except for those lucky, or unlucky, enough to be organising events of over 1,000) – offers up to $250,000 but requires organisations to have a payroll of $3 million in metropolitan Melbourne or $500,000 in regional Victoria.

Given the hardships of the last year, which have anecdotally seen some event companies shed the vast majority of their workforce, and the fact that according to the ATO, the average wage of a conference and event organiser is $56,836, any event agency or organiser would have to be in the middle of an absolute boom to have any shot of being eligible for funding, which seems somewhat unlikely given the instability of the event landscape in Melbourne over the last year.

In simple mathematical terms, if everyone in an agency was earning the average event manager salary, there would need to be around 52 event managers on the books to be eligible for the funding. micenet has heard of some of Australia’s most notable agencies cutting staff from 60 to 15 due to the pandemic, so hope for others feels overly optimistic. A handful of larger suppliers may benefit however.

The funding is also only for those organising public events, which, presumably, cuts out the corporate market and any invitation-only business events.

The Impacted Public Events Program is for Tier One and Two public events – with attendances of over 1,001 and is accessible by invitation only.

Simon Thewlis from Save Victorian Events does mince his words over the eligibility criteria for the funding, calling it “another kick in the guts” for the state’s events industry.