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News October 22, 2019

NSW Festival Crisis: Live industry lashes at minister, major festivals plan exodus

NSW Festival Crisis: Live industry lashes at minister, major festivals plan exodus

The NSW festival crisis continues, as three music associations lashed out at a government minister, while Splendour, Falls and Laneway have threatened to leave the state.

Live Performance Australia, Australian Festival Association and APRA AMCOS have jointly criticised the stance of customer service minister Victor Dominello at a meeting with him yesterday (October 21) and again called on NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to convene an industry roundtable.

Dominello’s portfolio includes liquor and gaming, which under the draft of the new legislation will decide whether a high-risk festival can go ahead depending on the safety management plans it submits.

According to the music industry, at the meeting, Dominello indicated there would be no consultation with the live sector until after the new regulations went through after being debated in parliament this week.

Live Performance Australia’s chief executive Evelyn Richardson said, ‘’The industry has, since February, repeatedly called for establishment of an industry roundtable to work together to ensure safety at music festivals for all patrons.

“While Minister Dominello confirmed at a meeting with us that he will during the second reading of the draft Bill publicly commit to ongoing industry consultation, it was made clear that this would only occur after the legislation was passed, with no industry input.

“We believe the Government needs to commit to establishing an industry roundtable that would bring together representatives of the festivals and live music sector together with Government representatives from tourism, police, health, liquor and gaming, and the arts to ensure there is ongoing formal consultation in the short and long-term. This is best practice and is reflected in other jurisdictions around the world including in Victoria.

“At the very least, this should be reflected in the new legislation. The roundtable needs to happen quickly and certainly before the summer break.

‘’Music festivals are a cornerstone of NSW’s cultural fabric and they also support thousands of jobs and economic activity in our cities, regional centres and country towns.”

Can NSW afford to lose festivals?

Image: Facebook / Leeds Festival

Richardson pointed out that the NSW music festival sector generates about $50 million per year – half of the sector’s national revenue of $100 million.

Last year more than 400,000 patrons attended a music festival in NSW: “That’s 43% of the national figure and 20,000 more than the year before.”

The LPA chief executive continued, “It would be a major blow for fans, artists and all those people in communities across NSW who benefit culturally and economically from music festivals, if we were to see music festivals forced to leave.

“The industry’s aim has always been to work with Government to develop a more workable regulatory framework for improving safety at festivals. The draft legislation in its current form is unworkable.

“However, we believe a music industry roundtable where both Government and industry work together can support our shared objectives. Failing that we call on the parliament to reject the legislation.”

Major festivals threaten exodus

The live sector’s longtime warnings about the consequences of legislation seemed to play out in a story in the Sydney Morning Herald today.

Via a release sent exclusively by the Australian Festivals Association to the SMH, major players including Splendour, Falls and Laneway are ready to move to other states where governments are more aware of the economic and tourism benefits of such events.

Laneway’s Danny Rogers said, “There are other states outside NSW that are willing to better support our business. We may be left with no choice but to consider our options.”

Adelle Robinson of Fuzzy Operations (Listen Out, Field Day) said the music industry “has repeatedly offered to work with Government” to develop a “workable framework” but their requests had been ignored.

“Yet again, last week we saw new legislation for music festivals introduced by this Government without any consultation,” Robinson said.


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