Just this past few months, two NSW festivals have cancelled their 2019 events due to laws that may be put into play before the end of the year. The festivals in question, PSYFARI and Mountain Sounds, cited a “war on festivals” as they warned fans of the cancellation. Byron Bay festival Bluesfest also warned guests that the event may be cancelled if the laws were to go ahead.
Organisers may well be slugged with a bill that will pay for mandatory police, ambulance and medical personnel at their events. The new laws state that organisers will have their festival placed into a ‘risk’ category; essentially stating whether the festival is a high risk or a low risk. And the higher the risk, the higher the bill.
Byron Bay BluesFest organisers claiming to cancel in 2019 if new laws are introduced / Blues Festival 2014
Those who work in the industry as well as organisers have claimed that the bill process and law development have been “rushed”. The Government, however, disagrees and claims that the scheme has been “designed in order to support music festival organisers”.
The bill is designed to hit “high risk” festivals and at the current moment only 14 festivals have been placed onto a “high risk list”. The organisers of festivals such as FOMO and Laneway have been texted with a warning that they have been placed on the list. Danny Rogers, who runs Laneway, has stated that “there was no reason given, no consultation, just that Laneway was on the list”.
In order to be put on the list, a NSW spokesperson for the Government has explained that “festivals where a serious drug-related death or injury has occurred in the past three years or where the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority has determined the risk is”.
Industry workers and music lovers alike are worried that the new laws will affect the growth of the industry as well as the ticket prices, and for good reason. With organisers being hit with a higher bill to pay, some ticket prices for festivals will indeed go up.
Laneway organiser Danny Rogers expresses confusion at the text he received notifying him that Laneway is on the 'high risk' list / Laneway 2018
According to Adelle Robinson from the Australian Festivals Association, higher prices are “definitely a possibility”. There have been issues with insurance for festivals, and paying the extra costs for things such as security and police will make it more difficult to run a festival.
The NSW Government has claimed that they will “continue to work with festival operators in order to ensure that they have appropriate safety arrangements in place and can comply with the new scheme”. The scheme is designed to support festival organisers, particularly the ones dealing with the challenge of drug use. Though those who work in the industry as well as music lovers believe otherwise.
Since the new laws have been introduced, music lovers have started a campaign throughout the internet #votemusic and are calling to everyone to vote out the liberals in the next election. This call to action has inspired many to make the choice before March 23rd and music lovers and industry workers are referencing all parties against these new laws.