Survival of Woodford, Tamworth music festivals mark $80M boost
The return in 2022 of Woodford Folk Festival and the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) could mean an $80 million boost to their respective economies.
Woodford Folk was given $4 million over four years by the Queensland government, ensuring it returns after a two-year absence in late December 2022 for five days.
Deputy premier Steven Miles, a regular attendee, said, “It’s a great festival that has delivered ongoing social, cultural and economic benefits to Queensland.”
According to the government, it “contributes $29 million in economic impact to the Queensland economy each year,” attracting over 120,000 attendees and participants a year, and creates 2,500 jobs for artists and arts workers.
Founder and director Bill Hauritz AM said the funding “will enable (it) to be rebuilt after 2 years absence and to flourish over the coming years … (and) embrace and engage with the magic of our cultural expression.”
Despite rising COVID cases in Tamworth and border restrictions, the TCMF is determined to stage between January 14—24 and celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Drawing a combined 300,000 patrons over ten days, the TCMF injects $50 million a year into the community.
“It’s not an option,” stressed GM Barry Harley. The TCMF was cancelled in 2021 due to COVID restrictions and losing some sponsors.
As part of its blowing out of 50 candles, the event booked the crème de la crème bill, issued a commemorative coin, expanded a sponsorship deal with McDonalds, and revamped the 12-metre high Golden Guitar tourist attraction.
A $150,000 grant from NSW’s Regional Events Acceleration Fund enabled a bigger Stars Under the Stars series.
Harley added: “The commitment is to try and deliver the festival, and if we can deliver that in a safe manner. If it needs to be altered we shall.”
The popular Country Music Cavalcade was already replaced by a static community, local businesses and entertainment event at Toyota Park on Saturday, January 22.
Most shows are scattered around a myriad of venues, with each with their own safety plans.
For instance, West Entertainment Group CEO Rod Lang is considering limiting free shows and double jab entry, while Tamworth Services Club pulled out all its dates.
In recent weeks, older audience members have cancelled hotel bookings, only 150 of the usual 400 buskers have registered, and a number of local medics have warned that Tamworth’s cases would be highest during the event.
The Academy of Country Music postponed its senior course set to begin on January 4.
With Woodford and TCMF book-ending 2022, the return of major festivals during the rest of the year emphasises their economic importance.
According to Live Performance Australia, pre-COVID they accounted for 4.7% (or $102 million) of the live sector’s $2.2 billion in ticket revenue each year.
They also make up 3.7% (or 975, 233) of the sector’s total 26 million attendance.
Australian Festivals Association data showed that in 2019 ticketed festivals in Victoria added $390 million to this state and 1,310 FTE jobs.
The eleven Adelaide music and arts festivals under umbrella organisation Festivals Adelaide injected $109 million of “new money” into the South Australian economy in 2018.
They include WOMADelaide, Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe Adelaide Guitar Festival, Feast Festival and Adelaide Cabaret Festival.
The 2021 Adelaide Festival Economic Impact report revealed that while attendance numbers were down, the Adelaide Festival generated $42.5 million for South Australia.
As a result of its absence in 2020 and 2021, Bluesfest estimated the Northern Rivers region had a loss of $116.9 million and 745.3 jobs (FTE) and the state had a gap of $203.6 million and a drop of 1,158 jobs [FTE].
CMC Rock’s 2018 event created overnight visitor expenditure of $11.34 million, almost double that of the $6.93 million in 2017.
Deni Muster’s 2020 cancellation meant a loss of $8 million to $10 million to local and state economies, and its annual $100,000 donation to local community groups.
A report by RPS Australia East commissioned by North Byron Parklands, where Splendour In The Grass and Falls Byron are held, in 2014 the two events generated $41.4 million for the region (of which Byron Shire benefitted from $24.1 million) and 308 equivalent full time work.