News November 26, 2020

Music festivals among first to gain from Govt’s $75m RISE scheme

Music festivals among first to gain from Govt’s $75m RISE scheme

Music festivals in New South Wales and Victoria were among the first recipients of the federal government’s $75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund.

The fund is part of the government’s $250 million Creative Economy Support Package to help restart activities such as festivals, concerts, tours and events once it is safe to do so.

Secret Sounds, the promoters behind Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival, will receive $1.5 million to develop a new festival “that would keep audiences connected while also reaching new audiences across Australia and overseas”. Splendour and Falls were cancelled this year due to the pandemic, with Falls’ Marion Bay leg already axed for economic reasons.

It is expected that the new festival will be among the additional events that Secret Sounds has applied to host at the Byron Parklands site.

Bluesfest received $1 million for its 2021 event to run between April 1-5 over the Easter long weekend. The event, which normally draws 100,000 patrons, was cancelled this year when COVID restrictions came into effect, weeks before it was expected to go ahead. Organisers had already spent an estimated $15 million in advance costs and had forecast an extra spend of $400,000 to bring in COVID-safe measures.

This week, Bluesfest revealed that it has dropped all international names from its bill and is taking a punt on its first-ever all-Australian lineup with Jimmy Barnes, Tash Sultana, Ocean Alley, The Teskey Brothers, John Butler, The Cat Empire and Ziggy Alberts. Four months out, 70% of tickets have been sold, the festival revealed.

Victoria’s share of the first round of RISE applications is $20 million. This is for 48 projects “which will support the creation of more than 13,000 jobs across Victoria”, according to federal arts minister Paul Fletcher.

Successful applications include $1.48 million for the Melbourne International Arts Festival/RISING for four large-scale projects, $275,000 for Melbourne Fringe (whose CEO Simon Abrahams said the extra money would allow them “to be supporting as many artists as possible to present their work”) and $172,900 for the Castlemaine State Festival in regional Victoria.

Other recipients included a number of theatre productions, such as $971,895 for Michael Cassel Group, which produces Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, $605,000 for the Islamic Museum of Australia to expand its digital footprint, and $705,000 for Grande Experiences, the creators of Van Gogh Alive “for large-scale multi-sensory experiences, of light, colour, sound and aroma”.

NSW’s share of $17.8 million for the first round will go to 28 organisations, Fletcher said. Twenty-two of these organisations are in metro areas while the regional organisations make up the remaining six.

The arts sector has expressed impatience with the minister’s office over the time it has taken to announce the recipients. A full list is to be published by the Office for the Arts in mid-December.

Those who miss out can reapply before midnight (AEDT) on December 16.

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