Byron Bay Bluesfest Cancellation Caused $228.7 Million Loss To Economy

Byron Bay Bluesfest
Courtesy Bryon Bay Bluesfest
– Byron Bay Bluesfest

A July 27 economic report found that the New South Wales (NSW) government’s cancellation of Australia’s Byron Bay Bluesfest in April due to COVID-19 caused a loss of A$116.9 million ($83.4 million) for the local Northern Rivers region and A$203.6 million ($145.3 million) for the NSW economy, totaling A$320.5 million ($228.7 million).

There was also a shortfall of 745.3 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs in the Northern Rivers and 1,158 FTE jobs in NSW.
Bluesfest draws 100,000 from around Australia and globally. The Economic Impact Report is annually undertaken by Reuben Lawrence Consulting and commissioned by Bluesfest.
In 2019 the festival generated $163 million ($116.2 million) in the Northern Rivers and $277 million ($197.6 million) in NSW. In 2020, with the festival being canceled three weeks out, it generated $7.6 million ($46 million) in the Northern Rivers area and $10.7 million ($7.6 million) in NSW. In 2019 the event created 858 FTE jobs in the Northern Rivers and 1,333 FTE jobs in NSW.
Festival director Peter Noble called the loss to the economy “a tragedy.”  

“The economic impact reports [EIR] we have commissioned clearly demonstrate that because of the COVID-19 pandemic our community is not only culturally poorer but also financially poorer,” Noble said in a statement. “We therefore made the conscious decision to go ahead with Bluesfest 2021, with the awareness that we need to present the festival as a COVID-19 safe event, and we are working with the relevant authorities to ensure that happens, so the public can remain safe and to provide the wealth and jobs in the future that Bluesfest creates. We have 1,500 people in the form of production staff, event contractors, bar staff etc. and 500 Artists, working directly on our festival every Easter, who all want to go back to work.”
He added, “By presenting these EIR reports we are also demonstrating the impact that just one event of this scale in the live music industry can have on the economy of the country. The entertainment industry is worth $111B in Australia. We promote the Arts; we bring jobs and the trickle-down effect means that people in the broader community have an income they wouldn’t otherwise have. Bluesfest is 100% independent and we are proud to contribute to our State and Local communities and we look forward to doing it again in 2021.”

Bluesfest is set to return to Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm April 1-5, 2021. The lineup features Bon Iver, Jimmy Vaughan, John Butler, Patti Smith and her band, The Marcus King Band, Tori Kelly, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Walter Trout, Xavier Rudd, The War & Treaty, Jimmy Barnes, Kasey Chambers, Pierce Brothers and more. 

Noble spoke to Pollstar last year for a feature story celebrating the festival’s 30th anniversary and the impact the event has had on the country, as well as artists like Jack Johnson.

As Australia’s most decorated festival Bluefest has picked up seven wins at the Australian Event Awards, nine at the North Coast Tourism Awards, two at the Australian Tourism Awards, five at the live sector’s Helpmann Awards and eight at the NSW Tourism Awards, which also inducted Bluesfest into its hall of fame.

Globally, Noble received the 2018 Keeping the Blues Alive Award from the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., the 2015 Pan Australasian Festival of the Year at the Canadian Music Week International Festival Awards and half a dozen of the International A Greener Festival awards.

READ MORE: 30 Years Of Byron Bay Bluesfest — Australia’s Best Beach Town Festival

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