BLUESFEST IS CANCELLED FOR SECOND YEAR IN A ROW
After consultations with NSW Health and the NSW Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, sadly they have arrived at the decision that it is in the interests of the safety of everyone the festival be cancelled over the Easter period and re-scheduled to a later date.
The Minister for Health has signed a health order cancelling Bluesfest. Bluesfest was due to open the gates on Thursday April 1st and close on Monday April 5th, 2021. Australian Musician’s team was already in town, ready to cover the first day of the festival.
Bluesfest was scheduled to return after being cancelled in 2020 by a public health order and had worked diligently to present the event in 2021. We are heartbroken that COVID-19 has spread into our local community.
Organisers are getting the message out as quickly as possible so that those traveling to the event can make alternate arrangements.
It’s understandable that many of the artists, crew, stallholders and music fans have been angered by the NSW Government’s decision to shutdown Bluesfest the day before it was due to open. A large amount of people had already made the trek to Byron Bay. Incredibly it only took two unknowingly infected people to attend a hens party in the area to bring a huge music event to its knees. Was the decision to shutdown too hasty? Could the decision have waited another day? These are some of the questions currently being asked. In the end public health was deemed more important than commercial considerations and public inconvenience.
As a result, it’s not only another kick in the guts to the Bluesfest organisers and all associated with the event but it’s a hit to the confidence of everyone in the music business. Will punters now be reluctant to a buy a ticket to any music festival in the foreseeable future? Will event organisers want to present a music festival when it’s near impossible to get insurance cover in a pandemic.
Without the security of JobKeeper assistance or any other government support that the industry has been calling for, festivals of all sizes are taking large gambles to operate in such an uncertain environment.
“We were devastated to hear of another festival, Bluesfest in Byron Bay, cancelling due to necessary health precautions from the latest COVID-19 outbreak. While the health risks are too great, the financial burden may become just as impossible for some festival operators.” said Julia Robinson, General Manager of the Australian Festival Association.
In a recent independent report from Ernst & Young commissioned by the Live Entertainment Industry Forum, ticketed Festival output and employment fell by 86% in 2020 compared with the previous year.
“If we had been operating at higher capacities like the Sporting Industry by now, blows like this would be more manageable and less catastrophic for the entire ecosystem.
We have been calling for a Business Interruption Fund (essentially an insurance fund for affected creative businesses to access in case of emergency) for situations exactly like this. We also need to get our touring routes back up and running between states and internationally. We welcome the additional RISE funding but if that is the targeted industry support that we are getting, we need it flowing now before there’s no industry left to support.”
Bluesfest was to have been the first major festival to occur in Australia and possibly the world since the summer of 2019/20. It had a capacity of 16,500 people daily over its five days, with three performance stages, plus camping – operating at approximately 50 percent of normal capacity and production.
The Bluesfest team has worked day and night for a year to achieve the approved COVID-19 Safety Plan – the first of its kind in the music industry and have been told by the NSW Health that it exceeded other major sporting events in its depth and ability to protect the public.
Peter Noble, Bluesfest Director says “This is one of the most difficult statements I have ever had to make. We really wanted to be at the forefront of the return of live music at Pre-COVID-19 level.
We feel deeply for everybody affected, the fans, the artists, and the hard-working Bluesfest team. But in the end, the health of our community must come first.
We will be having discussions regarding Bluesfest postponement and will update everybody soon. However, this weekend we will be packing down the event that was cancelled within 24 hours of gates due to open.
Please do not come to the festival site.
To all ticket buyers and music fans, we are hoping that you will support the festival and hold tickets to the rescheduled event.
All patrons will be contacted by Moshtix directly once we have an update on how to proceed.
- Dom DiSisto