Australasia News: Fests Get Gov’t Aid; Brisbane Night Mayor; TEG Exec Moves; NZ: LN’s Spark Arena Sets Record

ANOTHER BANNER YEAR: Beyond The Valley, the flagship of Untitled Group, continued its successful run in 2024 with camping selling out in a week and 70,000 applying in presales for 16,000 tickets. (Photo by Chloe Hall / Untitled Group)


Festivals Get Gov’t Lifeline

Music festivals were offered a lifeline by the Australian government’s 2024-25 budget, with its Revive Live program given A$8.6 million ($5.75 million).

Untitled Group said it “will ensure our festivals such as Pitch Music & Arts, Beyond the Valley, Wildlands and Ability Fest can continue to employ thousands of creative workers and showcase Australian artists on our stages.”

Business management and tax firm Darkwave called it “a game-changer, promising immediate benefits and long-term growth.”

Other bodies urged the government to look at tax incentives and bring down insurance premiums which rose tenfold post the pandemic.

A 2024 study by Creative Australia found 46% of music festivals get government funding but these only make up 5% of event revenue.

It costs an average A$3.9 million ($2.6 million) to stage a festival with one-third losing money.

As the budget was delivered, the 55-year-old National Folk Festival in Canberra predicted a slashing after a A$450,000 ($301,226) deficit.

Woodford Folk in Queensland urged patrons to buy early after a 34% audience decline at its 2023-24 event.

Night Mayor For Brisbane?

Queensland’s premier Steven Miles indicated that hiring a dedicated night mayor to oversee challenges and obstacles of the live music sector and nighttime economy was a possibility.

A frontrunner for the role is John Collins, the former Powderfinger drummer who operates the Triffid and Fortitude Music Hall.

The City of Brisbane has been introducing initiatives to grow the night time economy, but the live music crisis had a flashpoint at the grassroots level when the 500-capacity The Zoo club, acknowledged for its role in unearthing and promoting new talent, announced in May that it is closing on July 8 after 32 years, and the owner of It’s Still A Secret and Can You Keep A Secret launched a campaign for A$50,000 ($33,476) to keep operating.

More Seats, Hotel, For Darwin Convention Centre

The Northern Territory government is spending A$19.2 million ($12.8 million) to expand capacity of the Darwin Convention Centre by 4,350 seats, to a total 5,550, to attract more events and vamp up the waterfront’s tourist appeal.

The venue will also upgrade public amenities, audio and visual equipment
This comes as a deal was signed early May with Singapore hotel developers CEL to deliver a 236-room DCC hotel by end of 2026 under CEL’s Momentus Hotels & Resorts brand.

Moves At TEG, Sydney Festival

Belinda Shaw takes over as group chief financial officer at TEG from July 22, providing strategic direction and development to its live entertainment business.

Most recently CFO at construction giant Boral and Sydney Airport, she replaces Sandra Rouse who will now play a key role in the company’s future growth reporting to CEO Geoff Jones.

Kate Dunas, former director at ABC Radio and performing arts at Sydney Opera House, is chair of Sydney Festival, succeeding David Kirk after 10 years.

The 2025 event will be the last under festival director Olivia Ansell, who then takes over as artistic director of Toronto’s Luminate.


LN’s Spark Arena Broke Attendance Record

A May 2024 report by Live Nation revealed that Spark Arena in Auckland, which opened in 2007, had its biggest year to date last year.

Over 655,000 attended the arena and its neighboring club venue the Tuning Fork, with sellouts by Morgan Wallen and Luke Combs.

That equates to 41% of Auckland’s population and 13% of NZ’s population.

GM Mark Gosling expects a greater turnout in 2024, with the venue finalizing its six-year capacity expansion from 12,000 to 13,280, and blink-182 and Fred again.. already setting new crowd records and a three-show sellout by SZA.