Restrictions introduced to combat the spread of the coronavirus are beginning to be lifted, but it will be some time before large entertainment gatherings are allowed. It will also be some time before audiences will feel safe enough to attend performances at venues seating more than 1000 people as a new survey has found.

To help fill the void, drive-in hubs are being introduced in Australia where concerts and other performances can be staged for up to 600 people sitting inside their cars.

Drive-In Entertainment Australia has teamed up with local councils and will launch eight COVID-safe drive-in venues in NSW and Victoria from July. These hubs will strictly abide by each state’s public health acts. It is hoped that other states will follow. Apart from bathroom breaks, every stage of the experience is done within your own car.

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On Thursday May 21, Drive-In Entertainment Australia will present a free concert at the Robyn Webster Sports Centre in Tempe, NSW to showcase how the events will work. The concert will feature Casey Donovan and other artists.

The audio will be broadcast by an FM radio signal to your car’s speakers, which will sync with the sound stage. Performances will have the added potential of being live-streamed to the cars via Zoom, allowing the audience to interact with artists and vice-versa in real time. As for applause? Horns and wind screen wipers will take the place of hands – as has happened at similar events overseas.

“Like most people in the entertainment industry, we were left devastated when our gigs evaporated overnight,” said Samwise Holmes, Managing Director of Drive-In Entertainment Australia. “Rather than let it defeat us, we sought to innovate. Entertainment is what keeps the light on in times like this, we want to keep Australians hopeful and keep entertainers employed – while adhering to strict health regulations.”

“Even if Stage 3 restrictions are realised in July, Australians will still only be allowed to congregate with groups of up to 100 people, and that is not sustainable for most live performances. With the Drive-In Hubs, performers will have the ability to entertain up to 300 cars. And that’s a lot of people having a great night out – safely!” added Holmes.

Drive-In Entertainment Australia hopes that the hubs will be used for a range of entertainment from live bands and singers to musical theatre, comedy, ballet and orchestras. Live popular concerts would seem best suited to such a set up, but time will tell.

President of Equity, Chloe Dallimore said she was excited by the news of the launch of Drive-in Entertainment Australia. “Thousands of creatives, performers, musicians and technicians have been left out of the JobKeeper allowance, and our proud industry is on its knees. Drive-in Entertainment is an innovative way of rethinking audience access to our live entertainment sector. It’s a retro concept that will not only thrill audiences but will hopefully help keep the heartbeat of Australian entertainment alive and thriving until we’re able to perform in our traditional venues once more,” said Dallimore.

“We’ve seen comedians, actors and singers live stream on social media platforms, performing either for free or for pay-what-you-can donations, which has been inspiring and gives us all hope. However, we must revitalise our industry, and recognising the true dollar value of a live performance so that entertainers can pay the rent like other workers is a huge step in the right direction. Drive-in Entertainment feels as if it could be the trailblazer.”

For more information, or to access free tickets to the Tempe concert on May 21, visit the Drive-In Entertainment Australia website