Australasia News: Falls Festival Canceled; NZ: Govt. Investment Pays Off

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TAKING A FALLOW YEAR: After 28 years of ringing in the New Year, Australia’s Falls Festival is taking a year off to regroup and “reimagine” itself, having returned in 2022 after going dark for three years thanks to COVID-19.


Falls Festival Canceled

Falls Festival is cancelled for 2023 to reimagine the three-city event, announced promoter Secret Sounds co-CEO Jessica Ducrou.

“After an impressive 28 years ringing in the New Year with some of the world’s biggest acts,” she said, the Falls team was taking this New Years’ season off to rest, recover and recalibrate.”

After three years off due to the pandemic, Falls returned 2022 and sold 65,000 tickets to stops in Byron Bay, Fremantle and Melbourne for a bill which included Lil Nas X, PinkPantheress, Arctic Monkeys, DMAs, Amyl & The Sniffers and G Flip.

Falls had its issues of late. In 2021 it dropped its Tasmanian show – with a crowd of 15,000 and economic impact of $15 million (US$9.9 million) – because it was no longer financially viable.

Last year, after 24 months of negotiations, it was prevented from moving to its new site in regional Victoria after complaints from residents, and shifted to Myer Music Bowl in Melbourne.

Secret Sounds will continue to stage Splendour In the Grass to 50,000 in Byron Bay in July, and Harvest Rock in Adelaide over two days October.

In its inaugural year in 2022, it drew 23,900, with 30% of the crowd from outside the state and generating $16.5 million ($10.9 million) for Adelaide’s economy.

Earlier One World Entertainment pulled its inaugural country music festival Boardwalk in April after tix went to market in three states.

Intensive Events, which moved its Lunar Electric festival from February to September to lock in its advertised bill with Doja Cat and 6ix9ine, faces being wound-up by a supplier over unpaid debts.

In New South Wales (NSW), Play on the Plains in March cancelled a month out due to “low-ticket sales”, and Sydney’s 40-year free Newtown Festival fell to rising costs.

Gold Coast Stadium Discussed

Gold Coast councilors are discussing a confidential report from its officers there is a demand from concert and sports promoters to consider a new indoor stadium with 10,000 to 12,000 seats at a cost of $750 million ($498.6 million).

It stated, “Music promoters say that the Gold Coast is not a threat to Brisbane (an hour’s drive away) as artists will do shows in both cities.”

It would fit in between the 27,690-seat Cbus Stadium and the 6,000-capacity Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre (GCCEC).

But Brisbane-based ASM Global Asia Pacific executive chairman and CEO Harvey Lister emphasizes it would be a cheaper option to double the size of GCCEC.

His 2021 proposal included a 12,000-seat indoor arena and a 2000-seat grand ballroom.

Its location, near hotels, restaurants, bars, Star Casino and public transport made it “an absolute no brainer,” he told the Gold Coast Bulletin.

New Check-Ins At Lost Motel

To celebrate the third birthday of festival and touring company Lost Motel, founders Sophie Kirov and Yasmin Massey made four hires.

Long time road warrior Rowan Johnson, most  recently head of event operations for Auckland Council, is senior touring operations manager.

In the touring team are Tracey Bonavia from the music travel industry, festival manager Breiana Bennetts and sound engineer Kyra Cumming.


Government Investment Pays Off

A report from the government showed its $500 million ($314.2million) investment in the arts and culture sector through COVID-19 had heartening results in employment, business and GDP.

In the 12 months to March 2022, employment in the sector grew by 4.2% despite 11,000 jobs tipped to be lost; businesses grew by 8.2%; its GDP contribution grew by 10.6% (twice as much for the total economy) to $12.9 billion ($8.1 billion; and high level modeling suggested up to 1,000 more new jobs.

Minister for arts, culture and heritage Carmel Sepuloni noted 1,300 artists received direct financial support, and the NZ Music Venue Infrastructure Fund kept 95% of music venues afloat during the pandemic.