Lion Arts Factory and Five Four Entertainment face possible closure after the impact of COVID on the music industry and lack of government support. (Image Source: Saige Prime)

By Alycia Millar | @AlyciaMillar

South Australians are calling for action by petitioning Premier Steven Marshall to save Adelaide music venue Lion Arts Factory and event company Five Four Entertainment from closure.

The petition was started by co-director of Five Four Entertainment, Plus One Co. and Lion Arts Factory Craig Lock and was quick to gain support, reaching over 8000 signatures in 24 hours.

The group of companies are calling for an immediate lease extension to Lion Arts Factory, a grant totalling $500,000 across both businesses and a financial support package for the South Australian music industry.

The Premier, who is also the Arts Minister, recognised the impact of COVID-19 on the music industry and pointed to the funding the industry has already received in a response provided on October 8.

The Premier’s reply specified previous support for the Lion Arts Factory included rent relief to the value of $102,949 over a 12-month period and a rent deferral plan.

Co-director Craig Lock publicly responded to the Premier, saying that he is not confident that the SA Government is providing adequate support and asking to meet with the Premier in the coming week to discuss the issues faced by the industry.

Five Four Entertainment has been behind some of SA’s largest music festivals, including Spin Off Festival and St Jerome’s Laneway Festival.

The entertainment business showed ground-breaking flexibility throughout COVID, hosting one of Australia’s first COVID-safe music festivals, Summer Sounds, earlier this year.

However, the creativity of the business during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been enough to support its longevity.

Five Four Entertainment presents major SA festivals such as Spin Off Festival, pictured. (Image source: Daniel Marks).

Co-director Craig Lock said the SA Government and Premier have not been forthcoming with answers, which lead them to call for public support.

“We know our venue and events are beloved and important to the general public of SA and felt they had a right to know there’s a good change we won’t survive the pandemic,” Craig said.

In his petition details, Craig highlighted the disparity of State support throughout Australia, noting SA had provided the least amount of music industry-specific funding compared to other states.

Craig acknowledged this may be due to SA’s smaller music industry, suggesting the lack of a dedicate advocacy body and a small industry has made it difficult to demand support.

“The flow on effect of that is the government haven’t actually engaged with us directly during the pandemic and therefore don’t understand our specific plight.

“My feeling is that they think they have already given the sector adequate support and when people like myself come forward and highlight issues their reaction is to push us aside as being greedy and opportunistic,” Craig said.

Located near UniSA’s City West campus, Lion Arts Factory has played a large role in Adelaide’s live music scene since 2018 and has hosted a variety of local and international artists.

UniSA student Isabella Kelly appreciates the proximity of Lion Arts to UniSA.

“Lion Arts is such a great venue. It brings communities together through its themed nights and I would hate to see it close,” Isabella said.

In a press release from SA Labor the Shadow Minister for Arts Katrine Hildyardsaid the current support from the government is inadequate.

“Our arts sector has been crying out for support for months. These iconic South Australian performers and venues need the Marshall Government to step up,” the Shadow Minister said.

Shadow Minister for Tourism Zoe Bettison said the current state of businesses across SA is unsustainable and identified the sacrifices made by the tourism and arts industries throughout COVID.  
 
“They have worn the economic burden of restrictions and border closures in order to keep us safe and are now being left to die on the vine,” she said.

There has also been a response from Australian Greens Senator for SA Sarah Hanson-Young, who wrote to the Premier on Tuesday urging him to meet with Five Four Entertainment.

“If the music stops in SA, it’s clear many will be asking why the government didn’t do more to help,” she said in her letter to the Premier.

Lion Arts Factory and Five Four Entertainment are urging the community to continue to support the venue and Adelaide’s live music scene by contacting the Premier to voice their concerns.