Elements Festival Declares Bankruptcy, Goes Into Liquidation

14 March 2024 | 1:01 pm | Mary Varvaris

"We are deeply sorry and truly ashamed that it has come to this."

Elements Festival artwork

Elements Festival artwork (Source: Facebook)

Beloved bush doof festival event, Elements has announced that it’s declared bankruptcy and gone into liquidation.

Elements was a long-established part of Australia’s live music scene, putting on festivals, day parties, and events in unusual regional locations across Queensland. Hosting an abundance of dance music, the event took place in areas like the Sunshine Coast Hinterland in South-East Queensland. This year, it became Elements In The City, taking over Brisbane’s Eatons Hill Hotel in January.

Acts who performed for Elements played on secret city rooftop venues, inner-city gardens and parklands, and in the bush, bringing EDM fans new experiences amongst nature.

Despite going ahead during Covid, Elements has been struggling, with organisers writing a lengthy statement on the festival website admitting that “a relentless series of setbacks” has led to declaring bankruptcy and going into liquidation.

Organisers allege that after hosting successful events at the Landcruiser 4WD Park, the site was sold without their knowledge, “and we lost everything we had invested into the space. We had very little notice to move out, and much of our infrastructure was destroyed.”

Elements’ organisers claim the festival “would still be profitable and financially sustainable” if that never happened.

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Festival organisers then found themselves at square one, recalling building up a “completely underdeveloped property”. Elements took to the task of clearing land, creating roads, access to plumbing, and more – paying for all the changes, too.

As it’s Queensland, though, organisers faced nine “straight weeks of solid rain”. That led to the cancellation of the booked 2022 Winter Festival.

Obstacles continued to build throughout 2022, including “Moving costs, inclement weather, and low ticket sales”. Ticket sales “fell well short” of what Elements needed, putting the festival in a “precarious” position.

“As we planned the 2023 event, low ticket sales made a depressing comeback,” organisers continued. Already planning a more modest event, Elements struggled to meet their new reduced target.

They tried cutting production costs, even removing the Sonic Sorcery stage. Despite all of Elements’ moves to reduce costs, their most significant expenses, including security, medical, permits and infrastructure, allegedly “would not drop by even a dollar.”

As a cost-of-living crisis has swept the country, the festival’s expenses increased by 30-40% while ticket sales didn’t.

Elements then faced the “horrible but inevitable decision” of cancelling the festival this year but instead developed Elements In The City events. After those events, Elements hoped to “consolidate” their debts.

However, after consolidation, festival organisers were “overwhelmed by the level of debt” and sought urgent professional advice.

As a result of that advice, Elements was liquidated, and the owner declared bankruptcy.

“We hate leaving you on such a depressing note, but sadly, this is where the Elements story ends,” the statement continued. Elements assured punters that if they’re owed funds, liquidators will contact them with details about what to do next.

“We are deeply sorry and truly ashamed that it has come to this. It’s no exaggeration to say that the last-standing staff members have been gutted by this turn of events as the last thing we ever wanted to do was let our community down. Our heartbreak comes from the fact that we failed you and that we failed to achieve our dream of creating a safe space where everyone was welcome, where art was celebrated, and where sustainability and community spirit were valued.”

At the end of the statement, Elements urged punters to support Australian festivals as they are “struggling under the burden of costly and restrictive regulations”.

Ways you can support festivals include buying tickets early, supporting each other, and showing kindness towards promoters who do their best to put on unique events.

While Elements is loved by punters, in December 2021, it was the subject of controversy after being labelled as a “superspreader event” after hosting an event in Kingaham. A spokesperson for the festival insisted that organisers worked closely with Queensland Health on their Covid-safe plan.

That controversy occurred a year after a 30-year-old French tourist died of a suspected drug overdose at Elements’ old stomping ground of Landcruiser Park. According to reports, the man collapsed on the dancefloor and received CPR from emergency services for close to an hour after. He couldn’t be revived.

You can read Elements’ complete statement here.

In a separate statement to The Music, Elements said they’re “heartbroken” by the decision to shutter, but they’re “beyond grateful” for the support they’ve received over the years. You can read what they had to say below.

This wasn’t an easy decision and that it has come at great personal cost for the owner and everyone in the core Elements crew. We are incredibly heartbroken that it’s come to this, the decision has weighed extremely heavily on the whole crew.  

There are many varying factors involved in the current downturn for festivals across the world but essentially it boils down to two main factors for most events suffering the same fate as Elements.

The current world wide, post covid economy and the massive rise in all costs associated with putting on festivals. Production, Medics, Security, Suppliers, Infrastructure, Logistics, Staffing and essentially all costs related to staging events of this size have gone up a considerable amount.  Like any event, we needed to pay non-refundable deposits to lock in all of those major requirements. 

There are also the bureaucracy and permit costs associated with new government requirements that cost thousands more each year. Unlike a lot of other industries that are in an economic downturn in this post covid world, there has been a considerable lack of support from the government not just for music festivals but for the entire arts industry. More support is needed from the government if the arts is to survive.

Despite our best efforts to move the festival into 3 x city gigs across 3 days, the participation lacked the support required to be able to cover everything. 

Of the many reasons this is heartbreaking for our community, it is also an economic loss for the surrounding regional towns who benefited significantly by the thousands of people buying supplies, fuelling up and generally adding to their economy significantly.

Our intention on this journey has been to bring Queensland a level of production beyond what has ever been presented before. We put our entire hearts and souls into creating a space that elevated artists, musicians, and performers in new and exciting ways, giving them opportunities to connect with a loving audience and create transformative shared moments. This is a huge loss for local electronic music and artists. 

We implore people to continue to support the events and festivals they love if they want to see them survive this current rapid downturn for festivals. 

We are beyond grateful to our community over the years for supporting us and sharing many successful festivals with us, co-facilitating moments of connection that created memories we will never forget <3