Australasia News: Venues Get Gov’t. Funds; Queensland Music Awards; Festival News; NZ: Splore Taking ’25 Off

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BRIZZY’S BEST: Fortitude Music Hall on its opening night in 2019. The venue was tapped as metro venue of the year at the 2024 Queensland Music Awards.


Music Venues Get Government Funding

Discussions small to medium venues had with state governments about challenges paid off.

A February 2024 report found attendances down 60%, patrons drinking 70% less, rents up 34.7% and insurance premiums up 500%.

In April, funding initiatives were announced in three states.

Twenty venues in South Australia, where six venues closed in six weeks over summer, will share in A$850,000 ($544,369) of grants.

They included Ancient World whose co-owner, Hugh Scobie, called his A$60,000 ($544,369) share “an absolute lifeline,” the Grace Emily, The Gov and Jive, whose owner Tam Boakes said, “ When there’s nothing left and you’re at the absolute bottom, you think, ‘Where do we go from here?’”

The 20 also receive free business advisory services from government departments.
Victoria introduced a A$10 million ($6.4 million) grants scheme that includes backing 10,000 gigs over four years and a festival fund to provide promoters up to A$50,000 ($32,021) to stage new or existing events.

As part of new legislation to boost Canberra’s night time economy, the Australian Capital Territory allowed a reduction in annual licence fees for licensees for supporting live music.
The number of small venues hosting live music in Sydney jumping 84% in the past 12 months to 243 is seen as a testament to the New South Wales government’s Vibrancy Reforms.

Introduced March 2023, it offered a two-hour extension in trading hours if they showcased live music, an 80% cut in liquor licence fees and a “commonsense” approach to noise complaints.

Venues, Festival Wins At Qld Music Awards

Among the winners at the April 17 Queensland Music Awards in Brisbane was Fortitude Music Hall, which took metro venue of the year.

The business, which opened 2019, quickly filled the city’s needs with a capacity of 3,000 standing and 1,100 seated.

Kings Beach Tavern on the Sunshine Coast won regional venue while the country and roots Gympie Music Muster, which draws 40,000 over four days to Amamoor State Forest, picked up festival of the year.

Caloundra Cancels, Big Pineapple Returning

Sunshine Coast mayor Rosanna Natoli ruled out bringing in a private operator to take over the running of the Caloundra Music Festival after the event cancelled its 2024 run in October.

Sunshine Coast Council provides the 17-year old festival with A$275,000 ($176,268) a year.
Pre-COVID, it attracted 30,000 and injected A$3 million ($1.92 million) into the local economy.

In 2023 the crowd dropped to 21,000, which with “rising operating costs and cost-of-living pressures on event ticket sales” made it non-viable until circumstances changed, it announced April 16. After two years away, Big Pineapple will return to the Sunshine Coast in October.

Festival director Mark Pico acknowledged there’s “panic all throughout the industry,” and that sourcing international acts was difficult because of cancellations this year.

Big Pineapple traditionally has a turnout of 16,000. Pico added, “We have to move with the environment and expect maybe a few less numbers, but we’ve got time.”


Splore Festival Taking 2025 Off

Splore festival is taking 2025 off after posting a loss in February, “to catch breath and recalibrate” until customers “no longer felt the pressure of cost of living.”

Producer Fryderyk Kublikowski expected the sector to “be doing it tough in the next 12 to 18 months” and it is socially irresponsible to “compete for the community’s hard earned dollars.”

Splore’s three-day program at Tāpapakānga Regional Park includes free camping, sustainable workshops, five stages for music and a wellness area. Its patrons are loyal: in 2021, the event sold out in four days instead of the usual four months, and drew 10,000 in 2023.