With all the excitement of the many announcements for Austraila’s summer festival season, both big and small; it’s easy to forget the hardships that many start-up events face in today’s climate.
For every big name festival that boasts an impressive swag of acts – like Soundwave’s record sell-out this morning, or the recent lineup unveiling from Meredith and Falls Festival’s meaty New Year’s lineup causing a meltdown - there’s as many local events and organisers looking to get started in what is arguably an extremely competitive market.
While the well-oiled marketing, promotion and brand recognition of established festivals already scrambling for a share of the festival pie, a slowly-diminishing pie at that – with a recent poll showing a 4.4% decline in gross takings from the last two years – new players are finding it harder to gain a strong foothold while looking for a slice of the action.
Unfortunately, such competition means there are vicitms, and today the Herald Sun reports on the latest to feel the squeeze.
The Kangaroo Island Surf and Music Festival has fallen over after just one year, following the event’s inaugural showing last November – which suffered an estimated half-a-million in blown profits after controversy surrounding a polarised local council over the festival’s potential endangering the local wildlife.
Kangaroo Island organisers’ budget blew out to an estimated $500,000, even after the State Goverment provided $300,000 in sponsorship to festival managers, Surfing SA, before an additional $400,000 was injected to ensure that the local businesses that helped stage the festival wouldn’t walk away unpaid.
The five-day festival attracted around 4,000 people with a lineup headlined by Eskimo Joe and featuring acts like The Beautiful Girls, Hungry Kids of Hungary, Big Scary and Ash Grunwald against the backdrop of Vivionne Bay’s Kangaroo Island Pro surf tournament; the first time South Australia had hosted a world surfing competition.
Despite positive reports, following financial struggles, Surfing SA this week confirmed that Kangaroo Island Surf and Music Festival would not be going ahed in 2012.
Surfing SA administration and project manager Tina Atkinson said the decision was made public following inquiries into this year’s event, “It’s definitely not happening,” said Atkinson. “We’ve had quite a few people asking `is it on?’ And we tell them it’s up to Tourism (State Government).”
The Tourism Board responded by issuing a statement to local press saying that the contribute Government sponsorship for the event, would end up going elsewhere.
“A review into the viability of a similar event in the future has been undertaken which the Government will be considering,” said Tourism Minister Gail Gago over the festival’s cancellation.
The news of the cancellation of Kangaroo Island Surf and Music Festival is the latest in what can best be described as a turbulent year for the Australian festival scene.
It’s an unfortunate state of affairs that sends a clear message that despite the best intentions, there’s much more to putting on a festival than just a great location and lineup (just look at Supafest, Heatwave, Blueprint et al.) – something the ambitious One Great Night On Earth festival, which is aiming to sell 10,000 tickets by its December launch with little more detail than a promise – may want to take note on.
Otherwise, it could end up alongside Kangaroo Island’s event in joining the the ever-growing list of Australian music festivals that have fallen over this year. The last twelve months have seen the cancellation of Perth’s On The Bright Side, Victoria’s Castle Music Festival failure, NSW’s Central Coast Coaster Festival coming apart.
Also hitting the scrapheap was Supafest‘s super failure, Good Vibrations calling it a day for another year, and who could forget the disastrous Soundwave Revolution which fell over in a spectacular fashion just weeks out from the event.
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