Will New Festival Licence Requirements Bankrupt The Scene?

A Music NSW representative shared a slideshow of potential new festival regulations to a group of industry insiders in Redfern last night.

The presentation regarding the festival liquor licence requirements, which are set to come into effect on March 1 included information about:

  • Mandatory user-pay police, ambulance services, and chill-out spaces at festivals (costs will be determined on a case-by-case basis).
  • Licence application deadlines of 90 days before an event. The presentation stated that licences may also be cancelled at any point in the 90 day period. How this will affect events that are scheduled to take place within 90 days of the 1st of March (Strawberry Fields) is not yet known.
  • Festival redefinition to mean “any event with a capacity over 2000 people with multiple music acts, occurring over a five-hour period, where music is the primary focus.”
  • Concert redefinition to mean an event with no more than two headliners, two support acts, and a duration of less than five hours.
  • Additional fees ($0.60-$2.00 per ticket) to cover administration costs incurred by NSW Liquor & Gaming

“There is currently no method available to festival organisers to query these fees or be provided any transparency or justification for these fees,” one of the slides read.

Slides at the event. Source: Facebook

According to the information shared during the presentation, festivals will likely be deemed low or high-risk, with those considered high-risk needing to meet stricter requirements to get licence approval.

A spokesperson for Paul Toole, NSW Minister for Racing, said the shared information was inaccurate.

“The slides are from Music NSW and do not accurately represent the proposed licensing arrangements,” they said.

While interim licences have been issued to festivals since November last year, to date neither the Premier, the Minister for Racing, nor NSW Liquor & Gaming have provided detailed information as to what will be required to get approval for the new festival licence class.

It has also been reported that the NSW government failed to complete a Regulatory Impact Statement before announcing the implementation of the new licence class.

The newly formed Australian Festivals Association has condemned the government’s licencing changes.

AFA spokeswoman Adelle Robinson described the licences as  “too rushed and without enough consultation or consideration”.

She also questioned the wisdom of legislating onerously high compliance costs into an industry that was economically and socially beneficial to NSW.

“Music Festivals which are affected by these changes have an estimated combined audience of over 750,000 patrons and contribute millions of dollars to rural, regional and urban communities in NSW,” Ms Robinson said in a statement.

The presentation came in the wake of several NSW music festivals leaving the state or cancelling their events.

Bohemian Beatfreaks moved to QLD last year when the government demanded $200,000 in pay per use policing costs after originally quoting the festival only $16,000.

Yesterday, Byron Bay Bluesfest director Peter Noble threatened to relocate his event if the new licensing laws came into effect.

Mountain Sounds Festival cancelled last week after receiving a pay-per-use policing bill for $200,000 one week before the event was set to take place.

You can see pictures of the Music NSW slides below (sourced from Facebook).

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