A number of music festivals have been canned or postponed in Australia due to COVID-19, aka the world’s Fyre Fest.
The most recent cancellation is metal festival Full Tilt which has had to cancel its Adelaide show originally slated for late January due to South Australia’s new COVID-19 restrictions.
Because of our eternal worstie Omicron, SA changed its guidelines. Now, outdoor venues are limited to 50 per cent capacity.
Chris O’Brian, the festival’s promoter, said in a statement that they just can’t run the event in a seated format.
He also said that they wouldn’t postpone the festival due to having “zero confidence in the state government to keep its word”. Yeowch.
“We are devastated for the artists, contractors, crew and event staff who will all miss out on the income, many of whom have barely worked since March 2020,” he said.
“We are also gutted for the thousands of fans that have purchased tickets and were looking forward to Full Tilt.”
At the mo, the festival’s Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane shows (which are slated for February, March and April respectively) are still going ahead. However, the Brissy event had to be rescheduled from its original January 8th date.
On Tuesday, the Grapevine Gathering in Hunter Valley NSW was cancelled just four days before it was due to take place, with organisers blaming restriction changes by the NSW Government, which has just updated its no singing and dancing rules to include outdoor venues.
A Facebook post by the event organisers estimated that the Hunter Valley region had lost out on $5.2 million due to the cancellation.
“This is a devastating blow not only to the live music industry, but also to regional tourism.
“Over 1400 jobs are now lost across our artists, food vendors, security, production crew, ticketing staff and more who were deep in preparation for the weekend.”
According to the post, Grapevine Gathering had an approved COVIDsafe plan and that the advice from the NSW Government up until the restriction change was that their event was still compliant.
Today though, Grapevine confirmed that for now, their Victorian festival would be going ahead with its existing COVIDsafe plan.
An Update On Grapevine Gathering VIC ???? pic.twitter.com/a6qh1bT1bk
— Grapevine Gathering (@GrapevineGathe2) January 12, 2022
Grapevine’s not the only NSW music festival affected by the Omicron wave.
For the Inner West Sydney besties, the King Street Carnival in Newtown – originally slated for Jan 14th to Jan 16th – has been postponed.
“With case numbers spiralling and the ongoing uncertainty around the current outbreak, we as organisers don’t feel that now is the right time to be bringing large crowds into the local community,” they said in a statement.
Similarly the Tamworth Country Music Festival, that powerful stalwart of Dolly Parton and/or Cold Chisel stans, has been postponed until April.
Tamworth’s regional mayor Russell Webb told the ABC that the postponement would come at significant financial cost.
“I don’t think there’s one person in this organisation that’s happy about it.
“The best outcome for the city, the best outcome for the country music industry as a whole and the best outcome for the residents of our city was to postpone.”
While of course, making these decisions in the interest of public safety is super important, the music festival cancellations are also representative of the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on the art and music spheres.
And despite all of us relying on art and music for company, entertainment and joy during the pandemic, there’s still very little support to help those creators. Even Scott Morrison has a public Spotify account, even if it is just to listen to Hillsong.
Ultimately, the cancellations and postponements have renewed calls for a national insurance scheme for live events.
Speaking to The Music Network, Julia Robinson, the general manager of the Australian Festivals Association raised concerns about a lack of “safety net”.
“We were looking very positive, there was a lot booked in March and April,” she said.
“This has thrown everything into continued uncertainty. If we don’t get this insurance we won’t have a pipeline to deliver this year.
Similarly Evelyn Richardson, CEO of Live Performance Australia told The Guardian that more needed to be done by the feds.
“Omicron has played out worse than anyone expected. We appreciate the support we’ve had, but the government needs to step up and introduce a national scheme.”
Your move, government.Image: Getty Images / Mackenzie Sweetnam