Australian music festivals bolster state and regional economies

Australian music festivals continue to inject new money into state and regional economies.

Three Adelaide festivals in March were down from pre-pandemic figures but still multi-million dollar bargains for South Australia, according to economic impact statements released last week.

For the Adelaide Festival, which grossed $5 million at the box office, interstate visitors nearly tripled from 4,690 people and 35,301 nights in 2021 to 11,728 people staying 103,335 nights.

These contributions increased state contributions to $51.8 million and created 250 full-time jobs.

In comparison, in 2011, gross expenditures were $42.5 million with 218 jobs.

The report said new expenditure in South Africa as a result of the festival was $23.6 million, up from $18.6 million the previous year, and newly created revenue was $26.4 million. against $23.5 million.

CEO Kath M. Mainland called the increase in visitor numbers “incredibly encouraging” and stressed the economic and cultural significance of the event.

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While the numbers go north, they are still well down from pre-pandemic levels.

The 2019 box office was $6 million, with an economic boost of $76.8 million from 19,046 interstate and overseas visitors who stayed 141,258 nights.

According to an independent analysis by ERC Pty Ltd, WOMADelaide contributed $17.4 million to SA (52,300 visitor nights), creating 1,421 jobs and spending over $2.5 million on artists, with an outlay total of $33.6 million.

The Botanical Park’s maximum daily capacity has been reduced from 25,000 to 18,000 per day. For one in five, it was the first visit to WOMADeaide.

In 2021, the festival was reduced to a series of sunset concerts attended by 18,690 people.

19.5% came from outside South Australia and contributed $6.9 million to the state.

Adelaide Fringe generated $74.9 million for the state and attracted $50.1 million in new money.

Ticket sales were up 15% from 2021 to 727,567, or $19.7 million in box office revenue, of which $18.7 million went directly to artists and theaters and 16 million dollars remained in South Africa.

The study found that the Fringe attracted 32,000 tourists, staying 178,055 visitor nights.

Spending by tourists at the Fringe has nearly quadrupled in the past six years, from $607 per person in 2017 to $2,258 each in 2022.

5,820 artists gave 1,195 shows, including 252 premieres, in 363 venues.

Additional grants of $2.7 million were paid to artists, producers and venue operators, to help reduce the financial risk of shows.

The South African government has pledged $8 million over four years, which will go towards interstate and overseas marketing, securing flagship events and more grants for artists.

The Fringe has also become the largest annual arts festival in the world, after the Edinburgh Fringe was canceled in 2020 and a scaled-down event was held in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic.

Music festivals remain important to regional economies.

Broome in in the Kimberley region of WA will benefit from $5 million with the return after 22 years of the Stompem Ground First Nations festival, its founder and director Mark Bin Bakar told TIO.

Showcase of music, traditional dance and culture, it was held in 1992, 1998 and 2000 with major numbers.

Bakar attributes his absence to a “lack of financial support, vision and recognition of the importance the festival had for the region, particularly as a major tourist attraction”.

Kimberley Stolen Generation, Mary G Foundation and Mellen Events bring it back Sept. 17 to Father McMahon Oval.

The Pigram Brothers and Blekbala Mujik are on a bill headlined by Midnight Oil who have played the event in the past.

The 2022 event is themed “It’s Time to Say Fair is Fair” and marks the 21st anniversary of the Kimberley Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation and the 25th anniversary of the “Bringing Them Home” report.

The Big Red Bash is estimated to bring $15 million to the Queensland region and outback.

Its promoter Greg Donovan also urges the 10,000 customers “to think about spending money in the towns they pass through – fuel, groceries, restaurant meals, haircuts, lodging, food and drink, tours and gifts are all fantastic ways to contribute generously to the backcountry economy and experience wonderful, authentic backcountry hospitality.”

Big Red has also raised $350,000 for the Royal Flying Doctor Service Rural Lifeline since 2016.

The Deni Ute Muster, returns after two years, to Deniliquin, NSW, with 20,000 expected.

Its latest official figure was $13 million raised for the region and direct donations of $100,000 to community groups.

Along with music from Brad Paisley, Jessica Mauboy, Darlinghurst and Busby Marou, the Muster also features world record ute, bogan bingo, rock climbing, helicopter and camel rides, woodcutting and bull riding.

“Jetpack Entertainment, Rescue Dog Extravaganza, La Petite Grande, Crocodile Obstacle Course, Superslide and Twisted Science” debut at Muster this year.

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