January 31, 2021 | By Bronwen Largier

Over the weekend the NSW Government announced a $1 billion package to help small businesses impacted by the Omicron outbreak pay wages and an $85 million package to underwrite ticket sales for theatre shows and performing arts events but once again business events didn’t receive any targeted support.

Events businesses with an annual turnover under $50 million which have experienced a 40 percent downturn over the summer period will be eligible for government funding which will pay 20 percent of their wages bill, up to $5,000 per week. They can also benefit from a $1,000 increase to the Small Business Fees, Charges and RAT Rebate, through which the state government will also share the cost of rapid antigen tests 50-50 with small businesses, by March.

However comments made by both the NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and the NSW Treasurer Matt Kean as part of Sunday’s announcements are bound to sting for many in the business events space as the sector again missed out on targeted support.

What is most important when you’re putting together a financial package is that the dollars you spend…are invested for impact and the best way of determining that is not just speaking to Treasury, it’s speaking to every business group across the state, getting that feedback and applying it, that’s exactly what the NSW Treasurer has done,” said Perrottet

“Targeted support gets businesses going, gets businesses moving through and ultimately ensures that people stay in work.”

Many in the business events industry have been calling out for targeted support for business events for much of the pandemic but yesterday’s announcements once again focussed on a different sector of the economy with issues closely aligned to those being experienced by business events operators – the performing arts sector.

“Finally, we know one sector of the economy has been hit particularly hard and that is the performing arts sector, so we’re announcing a package of around $80 million to underwrite ticket sales for those theatre performances, plays and performing arts events that have been impacted by a drop in demand over the summer period and for those who could anticipate a drop in demand in the future,” said Kean yesterday.

This latest snub for the business events industry adds to the announcement earlier in January in which the government announced a support package for major events – its Event Saver Fund – which largely excludes business events – apart from exhibitions – through its standard criteria on event sizes, which start at 2,500 attendees per day. While guidelines for the fund say those who don’t meet the criteria can still apply and will be considered, the organisation making the final determination on eligibility is Create NSW which does not have a vested interest in business events.