WIMMERA publicans say grant funding will help them put on live music sooner.
But one says it will feel very different for punters when they do.
On Saturday, the Victorian government announced Minister for Creative Industries Martin Foley today announced the creation of the Victorian Live Music Venues Program.
From July 16, venues with a capacity of between 50 and 1200 will be eligible for grants to help pay wages and basic business expenses, provided they have a solid reputation for presenting original live music and demonstrate best practice in business operations.
The Bull and Mouth's Simon Mitchell is preparing to reopen the Wilson Street establishment on Thursday July 9.
He said the pub wouldn't stage any acts while it was only allowed 20 people per enclosed space.
"We need to get back to a minimum of 100 to be able to make a profit after the money that we spend on bands," he said. "The capacity of the front bar is 200, and we'd need at least half that to make it viable."
"I haven't looked into the grants program fully, but I'm sure it certainly would help."
Alongside local cover bands, Mr Mitchell said the hotel had hosted original acts travelling between Melbourne and Adelaide to other gigs in the past 12 months.
"It will feel different (attending gigs) for a long time until everyone feels completely safe going to the pub," he said. "It would be too difficult to get everyone to stand 1.5 metres apart while watching a show, so we're not going to do that. We probably won't get back to normal until after Christmas I reckon."
Mr Mitchell said while the business was adhering to current social distancing requirements, up to 20 people could be seated in the pub's front bar, 16 in the dining room opposite and eight on the dance floor.
He asked people to be patient and work with hotels when they next booked to attend one.
"We want to get it right for the public and our staff. So we might have to put people into times they wouldn't normally do," he said. "If we say we can only take you at 7.30, I'm sorry that's it, which is going to be very difficult to get it right."
Des Taylor has owned Warracknabeal's Palace Hotel for 12 months, and it hadn't opened for seven years prior to that.
"The pigeons had moved in and made themselves at home, as did local kids, before we bought it. It just deteriorated," he said. "We've done a lot of alterations and painting, got a lot of help form the family, plus a lot of local tradies. It took four or five months to get it up to scratch.
"We had only been open five weeks before the pandemic and we had to shut down, so that was a bit of a shock."
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Mr Taylor said there was a full house when the Palace opened with live music on its first weekend. The hotel employs eight staff.
"Grants would certainly help," he said. "We've lost out a lot being closed and we're working on it now to make up and carry on," he said.
"A lot of the locals are still not coming out, but it is increasing."
Pandemic prompts change of heart
For Mr Mitchell, the pandemic has provided him and staff with the opportunity to map out a future for the hotel.
While the new wooden planks holding up the outside undercroft - dubbed 'the seven apostles" are the most obvious change, inside the bar benchtop has been replaced, walls in the bar repainted, and the guest bedrooms, bathrooms and common rooms upstairs given a facelift.
Mr Mitchell said he hoped to attract tour groups and miners to the renovated rooms once they were completed and restrictions eased. He had previously been looking to sell, but not anymore.
"Because of what coronavirus will do to the value of hotels, and people moving around, it's put (his partner) Deb and I back five years," he said.
"But at the end of the day, we have a great pub and Horsham's a great place to live, so if this is where we retire, happy days."
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