In distressing news for Australia’s live music industry, Byron Bay’s Bluesfest was cancelled yesterday at the eleventh hour due to the threat of the latest COVID-19 outbreak. The financial loss suffered by festival organisers, artists, managers, agents, crew, hospitality staff, caterers, suppliers, fans, the local tourism industry and many others is predicted to cost tens of million.
Without the security of JobKeeper assistance or any other government support that the industry has been calling for, festivals of all sizes are taking large gambles to operate in such an uncertain environment.
“We were devastated to hear of another festival, Bluesfest in Byron Bay, cancelling due to necessary health precautions from the latest COVID-19 outbreak. While the health risks are too great, the financial burden may become just as impossible for some festival operators.” said Julia Robinson, General Manager of the AFA.
“Our thoughts also go out to the organisers, suppliers, vendors, staff, crew and also the fans who will miss out on Bluesfest tomorrow. Working these events often means a whole lot more to our festival families than just their livelihoods (although of course it affects livelihoods as well).”
In a recent independent report from Ernst & Young commissioned by the Live Entertainment Industry Forum, ticketed Festival output and employment fell by 86% in 2020 compared with the previous year.
“If we had been operating at higher capacities like the Sporting Industry by now, blows like this would be more manageable and less catastrophic for the entire ecosystem
We have been calling for a Business Interruption Fund (essentially an insurance fund for affected creative businesses to access in case of emergency) for situations exactly like this. We also need to get our touring routes back up and running between states and internationally. We welcome the additional RISE funding but if that is the targeted industry support that we are getting, we need it flowing now before there's no industry left to support.”