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Music festivals future in doubt as Splendour cancelled

The future feasibility of music festivals in Australia could be in doubt after Splendour in the Grass became the latest of several to cancel its 2024 event.

Mar 28, 2024, updated Mar 28, 2024
More than 25 music festivals across Australia have been cancelled since 2022 according to data from the Australian Festival Association. Photo: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

More than 25 music festivals across Australia have been cancelled since 2022 according to data from the Australian Festival Association. Photo: AAP Image/Regi Varghese

The future of Australian music festivals may be in the balance after Splendour in the Grass became the latest major event to call off its 2024 event.

Organiser Secret Sounds issued a statement on Wednesday afternoon confirming the cancellation and promised refunds for ticketholders.

“We know there were many fans excited for this year’s line-up and all the great artists planning to join us but due to unexpected events we’ll be taking the year off,” the statement said.

“This festival has always been a huge community effort and we’d like to thank everyone for their support and overall faith.”

The annual music festival, that is held at the North Byron Parklands in northern NSW, was due to be staged from July 19 to 21.

Tickets went on sale on March 21, with Australian pop superstar Kylie Minogue among the artists set to perform.

Australian Festival Association managing director Mitch Wilson said the soaring price of running a large music event was making it increasingly difficult for the industry to operate.

“The Australian music festival industry is currently facing a crisis and the flow-on effects will be felt across the local communities, suppliers and contractors that sustain our festivals and rely on them to support their livelihoods,” Wilson said.

“If we all step back and let market conditions determine our future, cancellations will continue.”

The association also called on state and federal governments to bolster funding and grants in the upcoming budget to help keep the sector afloat.

Current poor strength of the Australian dollar and high travel costs are other major factors impacting festivals, Wilson said.

Additional obstacles include climbing overheads such as insurance, as well as extreme weather, while many punters were dealing with impacts of the cost of living crisis.

Falls Festival, also organised by Secret Sounds and hosted in Byron, was cancelled for late 2023, however, Bluesfest was bucking the trend and kicking off at the beachside town on Thursday.

Splendour’s postponement comes after Groovin the Moo organisers were forced to ditch the event’s 2024 tour in February due to insufficient ticket sales.

Splendour’s lineup was announced on March 12 and included Tash Sultana, Turnstile, Angie McMahon, G Flip, Yeat, Arcade Fire, Thelma Plum, Future, Middle Kids, Girl in Red, Hayden James, The Dreggs and Baby Gravy.

Folk duo The Dreggs described the festival’s cancellation as “a devastating hit to the Australian music industry” on Triple J’s Instagram post announcing the news.

More than 25 music festivals across Australia have been cancelled since 2022 according to data from the Australian Festival Association.

– AAP

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