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Festivals seek ways to avoid massive financial losses from COVID-related cancellations and restrictions

Festivals seek ways to avoid massive financial losses from COVID-related cancellations and restrictions
June 7, 2021

Festivals in Victoria and Queensland are looking at ways to avoid massive losses resulting from Victoria’s extended Coronavirus lockdown.

Melbourne’s inaugural RISING festival was cancelled after just one day and is looking at ways to mitigate the millions of dollars in lost revenue it is now facing.

With the arts festival’s plans for trying to open for a third time in 2022 now in jeopardy, the Victorian Government-funded festival has called on the more than 100,000 people who paid for tickets to forgo a refund and instead consider donating their value to keep the festival financially afloat.

Festival co-director Hannah Fox told The Age they were trying to salvage as many of the events planned for this year as they can.

In Queensland, the organisers of Birdsville’s Big Red Bash are scrambling to find ways to offset any potential loss if Victorians are unable to travel to the event in July.

Big Red Bash organisers are looking at a $1.2 million shortfall in their revenue if travel restrictions deny Victorian ticketholders into Queensland. The organisers have said they will not offer any refunds, but will reissue tickets to the event in 2022 or 2023 instead.

Festival organiser Greg Donovan said they would only offer a refund if the festival had to cancel, telling the ABC “the event is going ahead, if we were to provide refunds and not have enough money to put the event on, the event wouldn’t go ahead.

“We sell tickets to collect money to put the event on and that’s exactly what we’re doing.

The ongoing uncertainty for festivals has amplified calls for the Federal Government to underwrite pandemic cancellation insurance for events.

Australian Festival Association General Manager, Julia Robinson told the Australian Financial Review “we’ve been calling for further support for quite some time and insurance in particular is one of the primary issues.”

Originally scheduled to launch last year, the first RISING festival was created to take the place of the Melbourne International Arts Festival and White Night Melbourne.

Image: RISING Festival co-Artistic Directors Gideon Obarzanek and Hannah Fox at its launch in 2020. Credit: Creative Victoria/Jo Duck.

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21st April 2021 - Victorian Government releases $633 million ‘roadmap’ funding to boost tourism and major events

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11th November 2020 - Art experience promoter slams Governments for not releasing committed arts funding

6th November 2020 - Major Promoters commit to Australian Festival Association initiative to revitalise the sector

22nd October 2020 - Festival promoters call for Federal Government insurance scheme

1st July 2020 - Creative Victoria continues to roll out support packages for creative industries

7th July 2020 - Creative Victoria launches new grant program to help music venues during lockdown

28th March 2020 - Major entertainment promoters call for Australian Government support through Coronavirus crisis

4th December 2018 - Midnight Oil to perform at  Birdsville Big Red Bash Music Festival

13th July 2016 - Over 7,000 rock the desert at the 2016 Birdsville Big Red Bash


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