New Visa Charges For International Bands To Hit Fans Hard
Fans of live music are set to be hit hard at the box office after the government scrapped a long-standing group discount for international acts touring Australia on entertainment visas.
Under the changes, made by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, visa processing fees will increase by up to 600 per cent.
Live Performance Australia Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson said the move could stop touring artists from coming to Australia altogether.
“This is a massive money grab by the government, which is being introduced under the guise of a new online visa processing system that is suppose to cut red tape and streamline visa approvals,” she said in a statement.
“These new fees add significantly to the cost of touring Australia, and will act as a major disincentive for international artists to come here.”
The problem is because of the large number of visas required which include not just the band but wardrobe, makeup, tech and support crews.
Guns N’ Roses have an entourage of about 80 people and while the visa expense would have previously been about $7200, would increase to about $22,000, Tim McGregor, chief commercial officer of promoter TEG Dainty told The Australian.
“What do we say to them? ‘Sorry, you can only bring 50 people into the country.’
“I don’t understand why you would be penalised for bringing in large tour parties when you get the authentic version of the performance, not some reduced version.”
It’s not just stadium shows like Guns ‘n Roses and Bruce Springsteen. Entire festivals are also at risk.
Byron Bay’s Bluesfest, for example, attracts a strong contingent of international acts that often put on sideshows outside the festival. The LPA estimates that under the changes, Bluesfest will cop the full 600 per cent increase. In other words: $55,000.
Other festivals, including the Falls Festival that will, for the first time, include WA in its 2016/17 season, face visa increases of more than 200 per cent for their international artists.
“Australians who go to a live performance event or who work in the industry will be the biggest losers under this new scheme, as well as those who work in local tourism and hospitality,” Ms Richardson said.
She also said it was already affecting the ability of live performance companies to plan for their upcoming summer tours.
Despite the fact that LPA handles around 20 per cent of entertainment visa applications, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has denied it the opportunity to participate in testing of the new system before it is launched.
It is unclear whether the changes will affect not-for-profit organisations.
The increased fees are due to kick in on November 19.