Australian News 9/20

Streisand Snubbing Oz?

Reported plans by Barbra Streisand to play neighbouring New Zealand but not Australia led to speculation in the Australian media that she is boycotting the country.

Apparently Babs felt "misunderstood" on her 2000 visit following criticism for using autocues to remember stage banter.

She felt her efforts to reach out to her crowds were "not fully appreciated," according to local media.

Tour promoter Kevin Jacobsen told the Sunday Herald Sun, "She grossed $27 million for four shows – how misunderstood is that?"

It’s more likely that Streisand wants to play new countries on her 2008 trek, including New Zealand and in Asia.

But a number of venue managers told Pollstar at least two promoters have pitched for Australian Babs appearances.


Cunningham Joins Arena Management

Veteran venue manager Ross Cunningham was appointed managing director of Arena Management, effective December.

Arena operates the 12,400-capacity Sydney Entertainment Centre and 2,000-capacity Capitol Theatre in Sydney, and plans to get into more venues in Australia and Asia. He reports to Arena Management CEO and executive chairman Michael Jacobsen.

Cunningham spent a decade at Tabcorp as general manager of entertainment, casinos.

He also oversaw the construction of the 2,000-seat Lyric and 1,200-seat Star theatres of Star City casino complex and was an executive manager for Panthers World of Entertainment.

He is vice president and board member of the peak entertainment industry association, Live Performance Australia, and chairman of the organising committee of the Helpmann live performance awards.


Big Day Out Site Threatened?

Big Day Out’s Queensland home at Parklands Gold Coast may be under threat in the long term.

A $1.2 billion university hospital, to be built next door, might take up much of the remaining Parklands Trust site to ensure the hospital can expand in the future.

That means the site’s greyhound track, the Church of Christ and Salvation Army buildings will go – and so will the space to host Big Day Out.

The trust would be reluctant to let the festival go; it makes a lot of money from it. The bar takings from the 60,000 people it draws is enough to pay for a new pavilion and car park.


Festivals Selling Out

Such is the buoyancy of the Australian festival scene that December events are selling out three months in advance.

Homebake, held in Sydney, has sold out 20,000 tickets, after only the first announcement of artists.

The Falls Festival in Lorne, Victoria, also ran out of tickets, again after the first round of acts were made public. Last year’s event sold out in a few hours.

"The speed of this year’s sellout is still positively astonishing," promoters said.

The three-day Meredith Music Festival also sold out "in record time," promoters said. The festival this year introduced a new way of allocating tix – subscriber ballot, store sales and online sales on different days.

Organisers said, "Demand as usual was very high and tickets sold out in record time.


WA Gov Doubles Grants

Western Australian musicians will have more access to the international market now that the state government doubled grants to bands seeking to attend music festivals and conferences such as South by Southwest, Canadian Music Week, CMJ Music Marathon Festival, North by Northeast, Midem, Popkomm, MusExpo and In the City.

Culture and Arts Minister Sheila McHale said WA bands could now apply for $10,000 under the Contemporary Music Quick Response program.

Applications for international touring have grown six-fold since the program started in 2003.


Micallef Sets Up Blackwing

Melbourne promoter Rich Micallef has set up Blackwing Music as a management, agency and production company for indigenous acts.

"The first mission is to give Aboriginal musicians a louder voice in the industry and media," he told Pollstar.

Blackwing is working with the Briscoe Sisters and hip-hop act Tjimba Possum Burns and the Yung Warriors, which just released their debut album Warrior For Life.

In 1984, Micallef took indigenous act No Fixed Address through Europe. During a stint in London, he set up Black Music Month to promote black music in London and organised anti-apartheid rallies.


Short Notes

Damian Costin, one-time Motor Ace drummer and previous booker of the Live Club at Crown, has joined Michael Gudinski’s Premier Artists as a booking agent.

Powderfinger and Silverchair’s show at the Ballarat Showgrounds was postponed to the following day when high winds of 67 kph tore a 15-metre hole in the roof of the giant tent venue September 16.

Promoter Andrew McManus’ plans to hold a series of concerts at the Opal Cove Resort in Coffs Harbour were abandoned because the local council reckons the site is a koala sanctuary. McManus scoffed that when he investigated the site, there were no koalas. The concerts would have included Bryan Ferry, Joan Armatrading, Dolly Parton, The Divinyls, Fleetwood Mac and Maxi Priest.

The reunion of ’70s glam pop band Supernaut for Frontier Touring’s Countdown Spectacular may be extended. Doug Fieger of The Knack, who was also on the tour, was so blown away by the band that he offered to produce an album for them in his studio in Los Angeles.

A council experiment where teenagers put together the Get Rocked festival for kids in the NSW North Coast was axed after only 300 of the 3,500 tickets were sold. Organizers failed to secure a sponsor and were particularly worried about feedback that local youth prefer to jump fences than pay to hear music.