WA’s Good Day Sunshine offers a blueprint for COVID-safe festivals
As the summer festival season looms, promoters are juggling ping pong balls marked “audience vibe”, “financial feasibility despite smaller crowd caps”, “social distancing and health regulations”, “promoter responsibility” and “council fines”.
Over the coming months, festival goers will be offered alternate safety measures from different promoters.
WA’s Good Day Sunshine is the first major festival to stage since the state relaxed some restrictions.
It is the singer-songwriter format for Fremantle-based Macro Music, which also runs Here Comes The Sun for the younger triple j crowd and Sugarloaf Rock for harder rocking bands.
All three festivals draw a sell-out 5,000 each.
Good Day Sunshine was originally scheduled for March, but was hit at the last minute by COVID restrictions.
Promoter Macro Music rescheduled to October 31, and moved to a larger site – Barnard Park on the Busselton Foreshore – for social distancing purposes.
“After the refunds in March, we still had 3,000 tickets sold,” Macro Music managing director Ross Macpherson told TMN.
“We had to create new ways to hold a large gathering and prevent a spread at the show.
“We worked with the local council, police, health and other stakeholders to ensure the format complies with current COVID guidelines for WA and all were incredibly supportive of our ideas.”
The solution was to divide the site into four separate areas, named after famous local surf spots – Cobblestones, Windmills, The Point and Injidup – with each allowing the accepted 1,250 patrons each.
Each of the four has its own entry and exit, toilets and bars. Once a patron decides on that area, they stay there.
They’re encouraged to bring picnic blankets and low back chairs to create their own social bubbles within the site.
In the centre is a round stage which revolves and gives everyone the same view.
Led by a chief COVID-Safety officer, dedicated teams will frequently top up hand sanitiser stations and clean any shared facilities including toilets, furniture and bar tops throughout the day.
Macpherson doesn’t forsee problems with patrons – 70% of which are journeying from Perth – disobeying rules in the name of their “rights’.
“At the moment in WA, people are going to gigs every week. The dancefloors in front of the stage are happening.
“People are very much aware they have to be mindful of social distancing, the current WA restrictions of two square metres per person, and making sure they regularly wash their hands.
“In any case, there’ll be signage and super screen messaging throughout the day reminding patrons to physically distance.”
Good Day Sunshine benefits from the fact that most of the artists are solo acts – John Butler, Xavier Rudd, Josh Pyke, Vikki Thorn, Kyle Lionhart, Dulcie and Moon & Honey – so they’ll be distanced backstage.
They’ll be alone on stage, so guest duets and all-star finale jam-ups are not expected.