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NSW Government’s festival licensing scheme needs ‘complete overhaul’

NSW Government’s festival licensing scheme needs ‘complete overhaul’
July 16, 2019

The NSW Government is being urged to drop the festival licensing scheme that it introduced earlier this year that forces festival organisers to apply for a specific liquor license that has to be approved by Health and emergency services agencies.

A NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the new liquor licensing rules for music festivals has heard that the NSW Government needs to completely rework its regulation of music festivals after receiving more than 40 submissions from individuals, businesses and industry bodies.

The regulations followed a spate of drug related deaths at music festivals but festival organisers say the new rules are heavy-handed and the roll-out has been marred by uncertainty.

Music festivals Mountain Sounds and Psyfari were cancelled by organisers who claimed the burden of additional costs associated with the new licensing scheme would put them out of business.

In its submission to the music festivals inquiry, Live Performance Australia (LPA) called on the government to “undertake proper consultation”.

In her submission, LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson stated “we continue to hold serious concerns.

“Uncertainty about discretionary costs that may be imposed at the last minute, such as policing or security fees, can make a festival financially unviable.

“Festivals cannot recoup last-minute cost increases from tickets that have already been sold nor renegotiate artist performance fees. They are also exposed to supplier costs and contracts. If there is doubt over a festivals viability, the only solution is to cancel it.”

Promoter Michael Chugg described changes to festival regulation as “over-reaching and unfocused” and said the state’s decline in live performance revenue “is of serious concern”.

In his submission, Chugg advised “the regulatory burden of operating festivals in NSW may drive some organisers across state lines.

“The changes to industry were rushed, with little regard to the long-standing industry business model.”

Regional Arts NSW Chief Executive Elizabeth Rogers argued that festivals in regional NSW are a major contributor to the regional economy and has called for a “complete overhaul” of the festival licensing scheme.

Rogers wrote “many artists get their first career break at the big music festivals.

“Without this opportunity … many of the rising stars on the Australian music scene would remain unknown.”

Image: Festivalgoers at the now defunct Mountain Sounds.

Related Articles

16th July 2019 - Music festival deaths inquest hears presence of Police dogs led to panicked drug-taking

13th July 2019 - Inquest hears of multiple failings by organisers and Police over festival drug deaths

16th June 2019 - Five charged for supplying drugs at music festival at Sydney Olympic Park

30th May 2019 - Following 2018 drug deaths Defqon.1 festival now ‘postponed indefinitely’

13th May 2019 - Action on festival regulations welcomed by Live music industry coalition

13th May 2019 - Inaugural Australian Festival Industry Conference to be staged in Coffs Harbour

30th April 2019 - Pill testing saves lives at ACT’s Groovin the Moo festival

27th February 2019 - New festival regulations threatens future of live music in NSW

23rd February 2019 - NSW Government list of ‘higher risk’ festivals dubbed a ‘fiasco’ by organisers and industry groups

21st February 2019 - Industry and music bodies slam NSW Premier for creating ‘confusion and uncertainty’ for festival organisers

14th February 2019 - LPA calls on NSW Premier to halt new regulations until proper industry consultation undertaken

7th February 2019 - Psyfari organisers end event citing NSW Government’s ‘war on festivals’

24th January 2019 - Australian Festival Association launched to create ‘world-leading’ standards

20th January 2019 - NSW Government to require licensing of music festivals after drug deaths


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