Major performance venues like the Sydney Opera House and the Capitol Theatre, as well as convention centres and large cinemas, have been given the go-ahead to recommence operations after the NSW government announced that audience numbers could be increased to as many as 1,000 people. The new rules come into effect from October 1.
The announcement follows a number of other eased restrictions, announced on September 24, in response to encouraging test figures which indicate community transmission in NSW has decreased to almost zero. Rules capping capacities at performance venues have, until now, prevented many larger venues from reopening, as the proportional reduction in box office revenue would be untenable. However, venues will now be allowed to operate at either 50 per cent capacity or up to a maximum of 1,000 patrons, while corporate events will be allowed to host as many as 300 seated guests.
This is welcome news for the beleaguered arts and entertainment sectors, which have been amongst the hardest hit industries during the 2020 health crisis. Some major arts organisations, such as Opera Australia, have been forced to sell off assets and property in order to remain afloat. Carriageworks in Eveleigh briefly went into administration just weeks after the government issued shutdown orders and was only saved from closure after a collective of philanthropists, led by the Packer family, stepped in with a rescue package.