So, a lot has happened in the last few days, and there is a lot of fear in the general community.
I see festivals getting cancelled in Australia and abroad, concert series events shutting down, international travel bans on musicians.
And it is likely to get worse, as we are not even in winter or flu season in Australia yet.
It is with a heavy heart that I must cancel the entire 2020 Melbourne Guitar Festival Concert Season.
I had over 60 concerts planned Australia-wide… This was the first year we were expanding from Melbourne to include regional Victorian and interstate venues.
This places me (along with many other artists and event organisers) in a difficult situation, because I quit all my other employment (with the exception of my performance work with the Melbourne Guitar Quartet) to work full time on the Melbourne Guitar Festival activities this year.
(Great timing, I know!)
If people don’t buy tickets to events, with my wife not working due to our recent baby, I can’t feed my family or pay our mortgage.
This situation has been changing so dramatically on a daily basis, it is hard to keep up.
The reality is that I cannot afford to finance any future events, and the risk of a late tour cancellation would run into the tens of thousands of dollars.
A lot goes into arranging a tour, everything from pre-paid airfares, accommodation, venue bonds and hire fees, advertising and staffing costs, insurance… There are a lot of expenses behind the scenes.
Even if the situation improves from a safety perspective in a few months, public confidence will take a lot longer to return.
I know that people are going to remain cautious for some time when it comes to purchasing event tickets, even well after this virus has left us.
I have no idea when public confidence will return, as such, I am unsure when I can resume our regular concert activities and have officially cancelled the entire 2020 Melbourne Guitar Festival concert season, which also includes our major 3 day festival in September.
Having said that, I have livestreamed several concerts in the past and will be moving to a paid livestream concert season in 2020.
Our first livestream will be a concert by Boilermaker, Australia’s newest guitar duo, this Saturday, March 21, at 7pm AEDT.
You can register for the livestream HERE
This will be the first of a 37 week livestream concert series with 37 classical guitarists from around the world, including: Laura Snowden, Gaelle Solal, Andrea Gonzalez Caballero, Kupinski Duo, Jesse Flowers, Mak Grgic, Vladimir Gorbach, Yuki Saito, plus many more to be announced!
All producing a unique, one-off live concert experience.
We will also schedule some entire concert replays of previous artists we have hosted: Ben Verdery, Gothenburg Combo, Harold Gretton and Daniel Nistico.
All proceeds from each livestream concert will be split 50:50 between the artist and the Melbourne Guitar Festival.
I see many organisations now offering FREE livestreaming of concerts.
In my opinion, this serves to support no one, and only makes it harder for musicians and content creators to make a living.
This is the time we need to come together and support the arts, financially and emotionally. There will be tough days ahead.
All artists I have spoken to have had their upcoming concerts cancelled. For people who live concert to concert, or gig to gig, they are now effectively without paid work for an unforeseeable amount of time.
A performing artist who was coming to play for the Melbourne Guitar Festival told me their concerts and composition commission work have all been cancelled for the next 5 months.
This happened effectively overnight.
They were relying on those concerts as their only income for the year ahead.
Unfortunately, this is a common story.
Free livestreaming is not going to provide for them during this time.
It is my hope, that this paid livestreaming concert series by the Melbourne Guitar Festival will help financially support these artists, and myself, who are all now without work.
Until we are back on our feet, I hope you can join us digitally!
Thank you also for the many messages and emails of support, I am working through to reply to everyone.
Michael MacManus M.Mus
Disclaimer: I am currently in talks with APRA/AMCOS about obtaining the appropriate licensing to enable concert livestreaming in a legal manner
If you wish to make a donation to help fund the future of the Melbourne Guitar Festival, you can do so via:
Account name: Melbourne Guitar Festival
Account number: 164100752
P.S. Did you hear? Classical guitarists are the least contagious people to hang out with because they spend their entire life alone practicing in their room. Additionally, they are even less contagious when you watch them perform via a livestream!