Victorian government’s $10m funding boost for struggling music festivals and venues

festival

The Victorian Government has announced a $10 million funding boost for the state’s music festivals and venues following a series of cancelletions rattling the sector.

Spread over the four years, the new funding will be split between the Live Music Festivals Fund and 10,000 Gigs: The Victorian Gig Fund.

To be delivered by Music Victoria, at least a quarter of the funding will go to music festivals and live music venues in regional Victoria. Grants of up to $50,000 will also be available to established festival organisers to stage new or existing events.

“During a period of change for Australia’s live music industry, we are backing Victorian festivals and venues through these new programs – supporting the businesses that are the backbone of Australia’s live music heartland,” Minister for Creative Industries Colin Brooks said.

Music Victoria CEO Simone Schinkel said the programs were “desperately needed” for a sector under pressure.

Applications for the Live Music Festivals Fund and The Victorian Gig Fund will be open from April 22 to May 17.

The crisis in Australia’s festival sector shows no signs of slowing down with Caloundra Music Festival the latest to cancel this year’s Sunshine Coast event.

Organisers broke the news on social media saying it was a “very tough decision to cancel”.

“Our much-loved festival has joined a number of major events Australia-wide to be paused due to higher operating costs and the impact of cost-of-living pressures on ticket sales… We know this will be a shock and great disappointment to so many people, but we are hopeful that an improvement in market conditions will allow the festival to return in 2025,” they stated.

“In the meantime, we encourage you all, wherever possible, to support other venues and festivals by purchasing tickets early so event organisers have the confidence to keep putting on music events.”

The Greens have also called on the Federal Government to allocate extra government funding for the music festival sector.

“We have known for some time that extreme weather events and climate change are making it harder and more unpredictable to put on large scale events,” a spokesperson for Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said in a statement.

“I have recently written to the Minister for the Arts to ask that the Government commit to a funding and support package for festivals in the May Budget. This is not just about the big name, corporate backed festivals, but more importantly, it’s about supporting local and independent festivals.”

However, a number of industry figures have questioned the need for government support, with many festivals in Australia owned by multi-national corporations including the recently cancelled Slendour In The Grass, which is backed by global giant Live Nation.

“I don’t know how this happened, but there is no reason at all that any government should be financially supporting any festival, venue or event that is being promoted by these large foreign owned companies,” Oztix co-founder Brian Chladil told The Guardian.

Live music operator Paul Curtis also questioned why taxpayer money should be used to prop up festivals backed by global operators.

“It’s tick-a-box funding from a lazy government that just chucks money at the big players because they all still believe in the trickle down thing,” he told The Guardian.

“But it doesn’t trickle down. It just stays at the top. It’s myopic thinking.”