Financial lifeline needed to save Lion Arts Factory and Five Four Entertainment

Both companies need a Government lifeline of a combined $500k grant and a five-year extended lease on iconic Lion Arts institution.

Image credit: Lion Arts Factory

Live music venue Lion Arts Factory and its sister company Five Four Entertainment have called out the SA Government for financial aid amid news that both businesses are six months away from bankruptcy and closure.

Launching a petition last Thursday, Lion Arts and Five Four Entertainment’s message could not be more direct. Both need a Government lifeline of a combined $500k grant and a five-year extended lease on iconic Lion Arts institution.

Co-owner of the award-winning live music venue and festival promotion company Craig Lock says the demand won’t come as a shock to the Government.

“I’ve emailed the premier like five times in the last 18 months, and he’s responding to my emails. This isn’t a surprise to them. They know all of this already,” says Lock.

“So we’re calling on the government to at least come to the table and have a conversation with us as a starting point. We’ve been trying to get a conversation going, and we’ve been shut down every time.”

“We’d love to have a one to one talk to the premier, who is also the Arts Minister, about this situation and come to a logical conclusion, which I think is very doable.”

For Five Four Entertainment, Lock and co-owner Ross Osmon are requesting an immediate grant of $400k is provided to the festival promoter to aid in retaining its staff while recouping any ongoing financial losses from current restrictions and poised reopening. The grant would also aid in Five Four continuing to run large and small-scale COVID-safe events, such as last years Summer Sounds.

Further, the petition is asking for an immediate five-year extension of Lion Arts lease on the government-owned ArtsSA building and a $100k grant to absorb the ongoing financial strain currently placed on hospitality, as well as retain staff. With its lease slated for December this year, Lock states that Lion Arts have been loosely offered a 12-month extension by State Government, but they are yet to see the documents.

Before COVID, it was estimated that both Lion Arts and Five Four Entertainment as well as club night promoters Plus One Co contributed $35 million to the state’s economy and $6 million through tourism per annum.

At the time of writing, over 11,000 South Australians have rallied in support of the beloved companies, signing the petition to back both company’s demands.

“We hope that if we can show the public care about what we do, and want to support it, and they value it highly…our hope is that will turn the tide of the Government caring about what we do, and come up with a solution with us to fix the problem.”

“It’s beyond money as well, we actually need a lease extension and there’s no amount of money that can give us that, it’s a government decision.”

While a question mark still shrouds both the events company and live music venues future, Lock states that they understand why restrictions exist in light of the ongoing pandemic. Neither company are attempting to disregard ensuring public safety.  What Lock believes is unfair is coughing up rent while operating at a fraction of capacity without financial aid.

“When you actually break it down, I don’t know any business that could operate at between zero and ten per cent of normal trading capacity and be expected to survive,” continues Lock.

“We’re only asking for a logical and fair amount of support for the level of economic and cultural contribution that we make as a business.”

“We’re not asking for anything outside of the bounds of what we need to survive. We’re just asking for what other states have already done, and what our state needs to do as well.”

Steven Marshall has now responded to the swell of public outcry to save both Five Four and Lion Arts from its imminent collapse. In his reply, Marshall outlined the one-year extension of the Lion Arts lease, the financial support both companies had received over the past 18 months, and his hopes for the state’s future.

Lock states that these figures were already known publically prior to the launch of the petition, with their second plea highlighting how the funds they received late last year and in March are not enough to sustain a crippled industry.

The petition comes as South Australia’s hospitality and music industry launch the Let Us Dance campaign, demanding to reinstate dancing to help keep South Australia’s vibrant nightlife afloat amid restrictions.

To find out more, head to the Change.org petition here.

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