Australian Festival Association Responds To Splendour In The Grass Cancellation

28 March 2024 | 8:55 am | Mary Varvaris

"We need government at the table to help us through this period and assist in stabilising our industry to sustainable levels."

Splendour In The Grass

Splendour In The Grass (Credit: Savannah Van Der Niet)

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The Australian Festival Association has issued a lengthy statement following the cancellation of this year’s Splendour In The Grass festival, with Managing Director Mitch Wilson “devastated” by the news.

The festival’s cancellation reports were shared yesterday (27 March) before promoters Secret Sounds and Splendour In The Grass unveiled their own statement.

“With a heavy heart, we’re announcing the cancellation of Splendour In The Grass 2024,” organisers wrote in a social media post. “We know there were many fans excited for this year’s line-up and all the great artists planning to join us, but due to unexpected events, we’ll be taking the year off.”

Secret Sounds’ co-CEOs Jessica Ducrou and Paul Piticco added in a formal statement: “We’re heartbroken to be missing a year, especially after more than two decades in operation. This festival has always been a huge community effort, and we’d like to thank everyone for their support and overall faith. We hope to be back in the future.”

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The line-up for Splendour In The Grass 2024 was revealed on 12 March, with the festival locking in Kylie Minogue, Future, and Arcade Fire as headliners. Elsewhere, it booked exclusive performances from Turnstile, DJ Seinfeld, and Fontaines D.C., while G FlipYeatHayden Jamesgirl in red, and Baby Gravy (the collaborative project of Yung Gravy and bbno$) were billed high on the line-up.

Tickets went on sale on 21 March.

“We are devastated by the news of Splendour’s cancellation,” the Australian Festival Association’s Mitch Wilson commented in a statement. “The Australian music festival industry is currently facing a crisis, and the flow-on effects will be felt across the local communities, suppliers and contractors that sustain our festivals and rely on them to support their livelihoods.”

While Wilson acknowledged that some festivals had seen strong ticket sales over the summer festival season, the increased costs—30-40%—of running a huge event and the increased cost of insurance makes margins tight.

Wilson continued to note that festival organisers haven’t raised ticket prices to offset their overheads as we all face cost-of-living pressures.

“We need government at the table to help us through this period and assist in stabilising our industry to sustainable levels,” Wilson wrote. “This needs a national approach.

“The Australian Festival Association call on the Albanese Labor Government to substantially increase and continue the Live Music Australia grants for festivals in the upcoming federal budget.

“We call on State Governments to support music festivals with time-limited funding to help us through the next two seasons.

“The Minns Labor Government, in particular, must ease the regulatory pressures being faced with user pays police, liquor licencing and medical and ambulance costs.

“The Allan Labor Government must outline their Live Music Major Events Fund.”

After calling on governments, Wilson urged festivalgoers to purchase tickets early.

The statement continued, “We acknowledge the current poor strength of the Australian dollar and high travel costs impacting the ability of festival promoters to entice headline artists from overseas, further impacting peoples’ demand for tickets when disposable incomes are tight.

“If we all step back and let market conditions determine our future, cancellations will continue. Do we, as a community, want to lose more of Australia’s favourite cultural events?”

The cancellation of Splendour In The Grass also prompted Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young to call for more government support for Australian festivals.

Alongside a video in which Hanson-Young made her position clear in Parliament, she wrote in a statement: “Today we’ve heard the breaking news that Splendour In The Grass has been cancelled. Another festival biting the dust because there’s not enough support for our arts from the Government.

“The Government needs to step in and help our festival and arts industry urgently. Ahead of the budget in May, I’ve written to the Arts Minister, Tony Burke, asking him to support our arts and festivals industry and let our artists in from the cold.

“Musicians are workers too. Artists jobs are real jobs, and this industry needs more job security in these uncertain economic times.”