Olivia Newton-John performs during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Picture: Getty Images
Olivia Newton-John performs during Fire Fight Australia at ANZ Stadium in Sydney. Picture: Getty Images

Fire Fight sends out the cheques

The Fire Fight Australia concert raised $10.7 million to support bushfire-affected communities and fire services, with the promoters confirming today all funds have now been distributed to help in the recovery effort.

The tally was bolstered by $1.2 million in donations and merchandise sales in the weeks after the historic event at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on February 16 raised $9.5 million in ticket sales and corporate pledges.

 

John Farnham and Queen’s Brian May perform You’re The Voice during Fire Fight Australia concert. Picture: Getty Images
John Farnham and Queen’s Brian May perform You’re The Voice during Fire Fight Australia concert. Picture: Getty Images

The 10-hour concert starring 23 artists including Queen and Adam Lambert, John Farnham and Olivia Newton-John, Hilltop Hoods, 5 Seconds of Summer, Amy Shark, Guy Sebastian, Delta Goodrem and k.d. lang was one of the last big gigs held in Australia before the coronavirus pandemic ended mass gatherings indefinitely.

TEG Live head Geoff Jones said all concert profits, including the sales of the commemorative Fire Fight T-shirts, totalled $7.2 million.

 

Montaigne performs with Hilltop Hoods at the historic concert. Picture: Getty Images
Montaigne performs with Hilltop Hoods at the historic concert. Picture: Getty Images

They were split between rural and regional fire and rescue services in affected states, the Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery, the RSPCA Bushfire Appeal and the BizRebuild program.

All donations made through firefightaustralia.com, or as corporate donations, during the telecast of the concert on Foxtel and the Seven network - totalling $3.4 million - go directly to the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal's Fire Fight Fund "to ensure local community groups can access support throughout their recovery journey, when the time is right for them."

All gold coin donations collected at ANZ Stadium during the event - totalling $5900 - went to the RSPCA Bushfire Appeal as did the profits ($20,100) from the auction of Fender guitars and merchandise signed by Fire Fight artists.

More than 75,000 people watched Amy Shark perform on the day. Picture: Getty Images
More than 75,000 people watched Amy Shark perform on the day. Picture: Getty Images


NSW RFS and comedian Celeste Barber, who also hosted Fire Fight, remain at a stalemate regarding the distribution of the $51 million raised via her wildly successful social media appeal and will seek direction from the Supreme Court next week.

"The single biggest concern we had right from the outset was getting money into the right hands," Fire Fight's Geoff Jones said.

"We took the approach of having quite a few beneficiaries and we engaged Deloitte to review the money raised and were meticulous about every dollar going to where it was needed."

After the frenzy of activity to get that concert happening in five short weeks while Australia was in the grip of the worst bushfire season in living memory, Jones, his fellow Fire Fight promoters Paul Dainty and Tim McGregor and the entire Australian concert industry are now stuck in a COVID-19 waiting game.

 

It is accepted concerts will be one of the last restrictions to be lifted by the Federal and State Governments.

"We're all working behind the scenes on how to get concerts back," Jones said.

"Sporting events will probably lead the way. The MCG can hold 100,000 and you might be able to have 40,000 people there under social distancing restrictions.

"But that's not going to work for a concert. Selling half the tickets to a Qudos Bank Arena - which holds say 16,000 people - means you would lost $1 million a show for a big international act.

"Whether the protocol is going to be a number of measures - temperature checking, downloading the COVID-19 app, what social distancing look like for a concert - we don't know because there are so many variables."

 

It’s unlikely 5 Seconds of Summer would be able to set foot on home soil again for several months. Picture: Getty Images
It’s unlikely 5 Seconds of Summer would be able to set foot on home soil again for several months. Picture: Getty Images

He said promoters were hopeful by mid-June when other sectors of the economy could be restarted that preliminary conversations could kick off about the return of live music and festivals.

And the first ones back, perhaps in late 2020 or early 2021, would almost certainly be Australian artists as international travel and quarantine measures would rule out tours by American or European acts.

"I think Fire Fight and (Music From The) Home Front brought so much great Australian talent to mainstream audiences who got to see just how phenomenal they are," Jones said.

"So yes, after we get through this, I think it will be Australian artists' time to shine."

 

 

 

Originally published as Fire Fight sends out the cheques



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