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News July 27, 2020

Bluesfest report reveals economic loss from festival cancellation

Bluesfest report reveals economic loss from festival cancellation
Kurt Peterson Photography

Assessing the economic impact of closures and postponements of Australia’s music festivals due to COVID-19 in 2020 is proving to be a challenge, especially when factoring the drastic losses due to bushfires earlier in the year.

According to Live Performance Australia’s industry report in December 2019, music festivals account for 4.7% (or $102 million) of the live sector’s $2.2 billion in ticket revenue each year.

They also make up 3.7% (or 975, 233) of the sector’s total 26 million attendance.

Regional festivals have a bigger impact on their communities; creating jobs, tourism opportunities, cultural identity & development, greening leadership and volunteer camaraderie.

Bluesfest Byron Bay this morning released its annual economic impact report, which showed the impact of its 2020 event not allowed to go ahead three weeks out because of the pandemic.

The festival draws about 100,000 punters, many from all over Australia and overseas territories, to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm.

The report, conducted by Reuben Lawrence Consulting and commissioned by the festival, compares the last two years. “The comparisons in employment levels and income as well as gross revenue due to the festival not occurring in 2020 compared to when it did in 2019 are alarming,” says director Peter Noble.

In 2019, Bluesfest generated 858 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the Northern Rivers and 1,333 in the state of NSW. However in 2020 it created only 36.2 jobs [FTE] in the Northern Rivers and 46.8 in NSW.

In terms of gross revenue, Bluesfest 2019 contributed $163 million to the Northern Rivers and $277 million to NSW. In contrast, in 2020 Bluesfest generated an output of $7.6 million in the Northern Rivers and $10.7 million in NSW.

As a result of the cancellation, Northern Rivers was left with a loss of $116.9 million and 745.3 jobs (FTE) and the state had a gap of $203.6 million and a drop of 1,158 jobs [FTE].

The figures show why Bluesfest is determined to tae the chance and go ahead next Easter, and why Noble has been outspoken that the Federal Government has been slow in following through on its promise to provide funds to promoters – especially 100% independent ones like him.

“We have 1,500 people in the form of production staff, event contractors, bar staff etc. and 500 artists, working directly on our festival every Easter, who all want to go back to work,” he says.

As for the effect of festivals on tourism, several states are still working on collating such figures.

But a TMN report in January 2019 looking at major country music events alone, showed the figure was considerable.

CMC Rock’s 2018 event created overnight visitor expenditure of $11.34 million, almost double that of the $6.93 million in 2017.

Drawing 300,000 over ten days, the Tamworth Country Music Festival has raised $50 million for the community over the years.

Deni Muster’s recent 2020 cancellation meant a loss of between $8 million and $10 million to the local and state economies with 75% of the 18,000 patrons from outside the region, while it also donates $100,000 a year to local community groups.

Peter Noble featured on TMN’s Music Daily podcast earlier this month, sharing insight into his process of booking international acts in the midst of a crisis for next year’s festival, and diving into the now infamous insurance claim with Lloyd’s of London.


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