Call for government support for music festivals after Groovin the Moo cancellation

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Regional towns have been left reeling after Groovin The Moo’s sudden cancellation of its regional shows, which has left a massive financial hole in their local economies.

The music festival pulled the plug on its six events across South Australia, the ACT, NSW, Victoria and Queensland just eight days after releasing tickets, saying the demand just wasn’t there.

Terry Karamaloudis, Bendigo’s manager of tourism and major events, said the loss of the music festival amounts to a “seven-figure sum” hole in the local economy.

“It’s been one of the best attended and best run events in Bendigo for 15 years, and we’ve had a very long and very rewarding relationship with Groovin the Moo,” he told The Guardian.

“It’s unfortunate, but this has not been an easy decision for them to make and we continue to fully support the event organisers.”

South Australian Business Chamber chief executive Andrew Kay said businesses and suppliers that supported the festival would be struggling to stay afloat now.

“From food vendors to security teams, clean-up crews, audiovisual technicians, staging companies, furniture providers, logistics firms, and many more, each of these businesses will now miss out on significant income opportunities,” he told The Guardian.

“Many of them may have turned down other work in anticipation of this event.”

Groovin The Moo is the fourth music festival to cancel this year citing difficult economic conditions.

The Greens say the sector needs further financial support following the impacts of lockdowns during the pandemic combined with higher living costs.

“It’s clear that there is an urgent need for government support to keep the industry going through these uncertain economic times,” said Sarah Hanson-Young, the Greens spokesperson for the arts.

Hanson-Young has called on the Arts Minister Tony Burke to fund another round of live music grants in the upcoming budget.

But Dr Andy Ward, senior lecturer in contemporary music at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said the effects of Covid on consumer spending are overstated.

“The industry has been through the wringer since Covid, but we can’t really continue [just] blaming Covid-19 for the change in consumer behaviour,” he told The Guardian.

“Younger audiences have completely different expectations to pre-Covid audiences.”

Ward said it was better to look at what audiences are spending money on instead.

“Younger people aren’t engaging in the traditional coming-of-age [experiences], they’re socialising at home and having house parties,” he said.