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Harbord Diggers backs Local Musicians following Reopening

Source: Harbord Diggers
Posted: 5 Jun 2020
Steve Tonge
While there’s no denying COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on many industries, there are few that have been hit quite as hard as the music industry, with the possibility of live entertainment decimated by social distancing measures.

Not one to stand on the sidelines, iconic Freshwater venue, Harbord Diggers has pledged to play its part in the renaissance by announcing the launch of a Live & Local series.

It’s been just over 24 hours since the Diggers reopened its doors – complete with new safety precautions in place and limits on members permitted in each area. However, that hasn’t stopped the club supporting a raft of Northern Beaches musicians who are booked to entertain guests throughout June.

Mounties Group Chief Executive, Dale Hunt said that one of his biggest priorities was to ensure local artists were supported as soon as clubs were able to open to members.

“Although online consumption has risen, musicians are still suffering. Many receive only tiny payouts from streaming sites and with public gatherings curtailed, and concerts, tours and festivals currently ruled out, the employment prospects for musicians have been dire - particularly cover artists who rely on regular gigs in local venues,” explained Mr Hunt.

“In saying that, people around the world have turned to music to help them through the crisis and so we wanted to do our bit to ensure local talent can have a place to get back on the scene and share their music with others,” he continued.

Harbord Diggers Live & Local series will run every Friday, Saturday and Sunday with a mix of solo artists and duos performing acoustic sets.

All from the Northern Beaches and Sydney region, the June schedule includes well-known local duos Paper Parade, Jon Butler Duo and Duan & Only, as well as solo artist’s Nick Stenmark, Steve Tonge and Grace Brown.

“If nothing else, the current circumstances are showing us that members of our community are doing it really tough,” added Mr Hunt.

“With music such an important part of what our venues are about, we pledged to ensure our acoustic schedule was back as soon as possible, booking only local, self-employed musicians who have been forced out of venues for more than 10 weeks.

“The Diggers is about supporting our local community and this is just another extension of our commitment to give back and spread joy to others at the same time,” he concluded.

The Live and Local series is already making a huge difference to those who need it most.

Steve Tonge, who has more than 10 years’ experience in the local music scene, was planning for an extended period without bookings after his winter schedule was thrown into chaos, only for Harbord Diggers to make an important booking.

“For me, around 90 percent of my income comes from getting booked in local venues and clubs for live performances and this literally stopped overnight,” said Steve.

“I was expecting no income till at least October, so I’m absolutely stoked that the Diggers is pledging to support local talent with gigs over the next few weeks.

“We expected that venues would reopen and hold off on spending lost budget on entertainment but the commitment from Mounties Group proves that these guys are willing to back our industry and provide guests with the same experience and atmosphere they have come to love and greatly missed during isolation,” he added.

Harbord Diggers Live & Local series kicks off this Friday, 5 June from 6pm. Acoustic acts will then perform every Friday from 6pm-9pm, Saturdays from 3pm-9pm and Sundays from 12pm-6pm.

Nick Stenmark
Paper Parade
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