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Festivals thrown a lifeline as government funds save some from closure

Australian music festivals have been offered a lifeline as the federal government attempts to bolster the long-term sustainability of a languishing cultural scene.

May 15, 2024, updated May 15, 2024
Splendour in the Grass (Image: Splendour in the Grass Facebook)

Splendour in the Grass (Image: Splendour in the Grass Facebook)

The federal budget, unveiled on Tuesday night, will provide $8.6 million to support live music venues and festivals that showcase Australian talent, as the industry verges on collapse.

According to the Australian Festival Association, more than 25 music festivals across Australia have been cancelled since 2022 including one of the nation’s longest-running festivals Splendour in the Grass and other cultural staples like the Falls Festival.

Soaring operational costs, alongside a lack of funding and grants, have threatened the the industry, with more than one-third of Australian music festivals losing money, Creative Australia has found.

Weak ticket sales have also plagued some festivals, including the multi-state event Groovin the Moo, which was forced to cancel its 2024 tour.

Arts Minister Tony Burke says his government’s funding will help revive Australia’s arts, entertainment and cultural sector.

“After a decade of neglect and funding cuts from coalition governments, we want to make sure Australian stories are told, our artists are supported and our history is safeguarded,” he said.

However, Creative Australia’s report also revealed it cost an average of $3.9 million to run a music festival, so it is unclear how far the budget boost will go to saving the struggling sector.

The federal government has also earmarked $14.5 million to support the production of Australian children’s television, in hopes it could create another worldwide success like Bluey.

The next Nicole Kidman could soon be in the making as $115.2 million is committed to fostering a new generation of talent at eight of Australia’s most prestigious performing arts training schools.

The National Film and Sound Archive will also receive a $9.3 million boost to store highly historically significant, but flammable film and photo negatives.

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