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News September 25, 2020

Good Day Sunshine organiser Ross Macpherson talks COVIDSafe festivals: ‘We’re planning three other events this summer’

Senior Journalist, B2B
Good Day Sunshine organiser Ross Macpherson talks COVIDSafe festivals: ‘We’re planning three other events this summer’

The sun is hammering down, the days stretching longer. In the natural order of things, the beat of the summer festivals should be growing louder.

This is not a normal year.

Good Day Sunshine is not a normal event. Spearheaded by Macro Music CEO Ross Macpherson, the WA festival, with its world-first COVIDSafe format, is making a noise all of its own.

Scheduled for 31st October, with a bill headlined by John Butler, Xavier Rudd, Josh Pyke and others, Good Day Sunshine stands out for several reasons.

The grounds at Barnard Park on the Busselton Foreshore will be split into four areas, each with a 1,2500 capacity with their own amenities, entry and exit points and bars.

Also, the all-Australian line-up will perform in the round, on the revolving Turntable Stage.

Good Day Sunshine festival map

That it’s actually going ahead, when everything else has cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic, is cause for celebration.

“I would be flattered if this format was to be used by other events in Australia and across the world,” Macpherson said in a statement announcing the event.

The action won’t stop there. Macpherson and Macro Music, the Fremantle-based boutique music management and events company, have been building outdoor shows since 2011.

They’re hatching plans for more COVIDSafe events before the cooler months return.

TIO got the inside track.

TIO: Was the festival born out of the idea of giving a platform to some of Macro Music’s artists?

Macpherson: No, not really. We’ve been building outdoor shows for our artists and other artists for a number of years in Margaret River, a 3 Oceans winery.

So, we’ve built shows for acts like Tash Sultana, Rufus Du Sol, Cat Empire, Xavier Rudd, John Butler, because there’s not a big venue in the southwest to accommodate larger acts.

We also built The Drop Festival. That was originally born out of there being a lack of a venue for Xavier and grew from there.

Last summer things were looking slim. There was a lot of competition with festivals, so rather than waiting for agents or managers to call us to build shows for their acts, we decided to launch our own festivals.

We launched three last summer: Here Comes The Sun (12th October 2019 with Amy Shark, San Cisco, Seth Sentry and more), Sugarloaf Rock Festival (8th February, 2020 with Grinspoon, Wolfmother, Dead Letter Circus) and Good Day Sunshine, which was meant to take place 21st March.

We were handed our marching orders due to COVID a week before the show. We were already at 90% capacity sold. The show was all set to go ahead and we had to call it.

At that time we made a decision and pulled a date out of the air (to reschedule), 31st October.

The message early on was that everything would be shut down for six months. So it allowed a little more time (to get organised). And we went for it.

John Butler on climate change

John Butler

Was it a nightmare setting up with all the protocols?

Not particularly. It’s all very straight forward. With what we’ve done with the idea of breaking it up into four 1,250 capacity venues just completely mitigates the risk of any large-scale spread.

I view our show more like four 1,250 capacity events, rather than one, 5,000 capacity event.

Everyone is treated equally with this site set up.

We looked at many different ways to try that but…we felt this was the best way to give everyone the same experience and an equal show.

That and being able to then have the central stage with the four exits coming from different directions, the four independent shows. It seemed to make sense.

All the performers are Australian. Will it create problems with having, say, Josh Pyke traveling from Sydney?

It does. We are talking with WA Police and Health about the quarantine requirements.

Artists have been granted a 14-day quarantine in the past, that’s the worst-case scenario.

It’s down to the artists at the end of the day, and whether they want to do that. For some it won’t be viable, for others it will be.

Hopefully we can develop over time, and not too long a time, a travel bubble much like the AFL enjoyed.

I’m not sure it’ll be granted with the leniency, but it’s something we want to discuss.

It feels like WA can offer a lifeline to the music industry at the moment. We are open to doing those things. At the same time, the reason why WA is in this position is because of our geographical location and also the hard border, you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Josh Pyke

Will you make any money with this event?

Yeah, it’ll be fine. We just want the show to go ahead. We’re already so heavily invested in it personally at this point, it’d be a real shame for it to fall over.

We’re planning three other events this summer. We’re talking to other interstate artists who are interested, some of who are committed to quarantine for the two weeks.

There’s a level of artists in Australia where it does make sense. It’s about finding those artists who want to have a crack, and seeing if we can build shows around them.

I’m on the board of the ALMBC. So, I’m working closely with those guys. Over here, WA is operating pretty much on its own because we’re in a very different position. I can’t stress enough just how lucky we are.

We can’t lose sight of the fact. We’re in a very lucky situation.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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