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News January 14, 2022

Music industry slams Hillsong Church after festival fiasco

Music industry slams Hillsong Church after festival fiasco
Instant supergroup Thrillsong

The Hillsong megachurch was told by NSW health minister Brad Hazzard to “pull the pin” on singing and dancing at its outdoor youth camp, sparking a wave of outrage.

Held south of Newcastle, the four-day Wildlife Summercamp ends on Saturday.

Hazzard was appalled at a “total disregard” of current health rules, with social media footage showing at least a hundred teenagers singing and dancing maskless in a tent.

Current COVID restrictions in NSW ban singing and dancing in hospitality venues, entertainment facilities, and major recreation sites.

The music industry has reacted with anger at the double standards.

It comes in the wake of 15 festivals being canned or postponed in the last few weeks.

Julia Robinson, general manager of the Australian Festival Association, told TMN it was “very disappointing” for organisers who have had to cancel at the last minute “and fork out a fair amount of money”, and also for the fans who see other people enjoying singing and dancing.

“But it was good to see there was swift action taken,” she said.

As to whether Hillsong should have been fined, Robinson’s believes a fair and balanced approach to these different settings with a health risk is neederd.

“It just needs to be consistent across the board.

“If there’s any concern as to how these settings might look, then you consult with experts who can provide advise to health authorities.”

Labor’s music and nighttime shadow minister John Graham also chimed in.

“Gigs have been cancelled, artists are out of work, venues have closed because of state government restrictions that ban dancing and singing,” he said.

“We are calling for consistent rules and support for venues closed by COVID restrictions.”

A group of artists formed a tongue in cheek supergroup called Thrillsong and were ready to “take bookings for religious and sporting events”.

They were made up of Alex the Astronaut, Annie Hamilton, Art vs. Science, CC:DISCO!, Confidence Man, Dune Rats, Hatchie, Illy, Jack River, The Jungle Giants, KLP, Lime Cordiale, Montaigne, Odette, Peking Duk, Set Mo, Stace Cadet, Sycco, Thandi Phoenix and What So Not.

“We firmly support measures to protect our fans and communities and to safeguard our health care workers, we simply ask that if rules are made, they apply to everyone equally,” they said.

“We need to be in this together.”

The Jungle Giants, who were to have headlined at the cancelled Grapevine Gathering, tweeted: “Thinking about starting a church in NSW so we can play some gigs. Who’s in?”

The Lord Gladstone venue in Chippendale, Sydney, is rebranding as The Gladsong Hotel to host a “Sunday service” event on January 23.

A post from Illy pointed out how many of his friends had to cancel or postpone shows this year.

“I can deal with the NSW health minister *specifically* outlawing singing and dancing at outdoor festivals the other day, an unusual attack on a specific industry without any assistance to those affected.

“I can even just about deal with after all the music industry has done and dealt with in the last two years, seeing a Hillsong music festival allowed to go ahead in NSW last night where no others could, purely because the attendees are from the same church as the prime minister.”

DZ Deathrays called it a “slap in the face to the arts industry”.

Hillsong rejected there was a breach, saying it followed COVID procedures, that the camps “are not similar to a music festival in any way” and that the footage posted only showed a few minutes of a larger program.

Similar events are scheduled to be held across the country later this month.

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