WA festival refuses refunds for ticket holders as it struggles to stay afloat

Ticket holders are being refused a refund or credit for a Swan Valley music and arts festival that was cancelled due to the Covid-19 ban on mass gatherings.

The Blazing Swan festival was left 1000 ticket sales short of its forecasted budget but found its event cancellation insurance did not cover a global pandemic, according to Blazing Swan chairperson Vida Barrett.

“With regard to partial refunds, the membership decided that based on current financial status, the amount to be refunded would only be a very small percentage of the original ticket price and the result of refunding would place Blazing Swan in a dire financial position and jeopardise any future events,” a statement said on the event’s Facebook page.

“We understand that communication of this decision will be difficult for some among our community to hear.

“This situation and outcome has deeply impacted us all. The lost financial commitment and countless hours in planning and preparation over the last year by the theme camps, artists, crew leads, build crews, participants and the committee will be felt for some time.”

Speaking to WAtoday, Barrett said only 1400 tickets were sold, with half the money already been spent on expenses, while the other 50 per cent being held to see the not-for-profit organisation through an extra year of potentially lost income.

“We don’t even know now if we can do next year’s event, we’re in a pretty sticky situation,” she said.

“What we would like to do is that if we get the go ahead to run an event next year and for how many people and if there is still money in the bank and take a percentage discount off for those ticket-holders.

“But if we don’t get to run the event next year we still have to sustain a not-for-profit for a further year, which is two year’s worth of running costs and storage space and stuff we’ll still have to pay for.

“We would love to apply for a grant to pay everyone their money back, that’s what we hoped we would be able to do.”

WA’s Consumer Protection is investigating complaints against Blazing Swan from disgruntled ticket holders.

“If they have money in their account that they took from consumers for the purpose of this event then that money should be used to provide refunds to those consumers,” WA’s consumer protection commissioner Lanie Chopping told WAtoday.

“These are extraordinary times and there are some legalities associated with the provision of refunds. That said, if you take money to give a service then you should be providing a remedy if you’re unable to deliver that service.”