BlogAustralian Music Festivals Falls Victim to Climate Change

Australian Music Festivals Falls Victim to Climate Change

As the repercussions of the climate emergency worsened, the cancellation of the West Victorian electronic music event Pitch served as a wake-up call for Australian festivals. Extreme weather occurrences have caused over 40 Australian music festivals to be cancelled, postponed, or evacuated; more than 20 of these disruptions happened in 2022.

According to the worldwide scientific agreement on climate change, there will be an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather occurrences. Predictions indicate that there will be more days that are exceptionally hot and more powerful rainstorms. 

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The federal government will introduce a new national cultural strategy in 2023 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic’s revelation of vulnerabilities in the arts. This strategy acknowledges festivals and modern music as significant venues for cultural engagement deserving of public funding. On the other hand, thorough planning and debate of the short- and long-term effects of climate change are still lacking.

Peak organisations representing the live events and music industries, including the Australian Festivals Association, have started to openly address the increasing effects of climate change and natural catastrophes. Industry suggestions for mitigating the uncertainties arising from these elements, together with more visible pandemic hazards, encompass a business interruption fund backed by the government and an insurance underwriting program. Similar policies have been put in place in other nations and Australian industries.

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There also some acknowledgement of the necessity for festivals to make immediate adaptations, such as re-evaluating the venues where activities held. There are signs that things are changing “behind the scenes,” such as through clauses in contracts that divide up the expenses and risks associated with cancellations. Festival staging encompasses project management, logistics, security, first aid, emergency services, local government, insurance, ticketing agencies, food and beverage distribution, and artists. Festivals are an ecosystem of varied, interconnected, and frequently competing interests.

Festivals are a commercial marketplace with uneven resources and power dynamics, including a varied range of interdependent and often opposing interests. Concerns have raised over the growing power of a small number of “corporate giants” in Australia’s live music industry. This market concentration might further concentrated by removing less adaptable startups, small enterprises, and community efforts due to the increasing risks and expenses involved with festivals. This puts variety at risk, which is necessary to realize festivals’ broader social and economic advantages, especially in local communities.

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It is critical to comprehend the dangers involved in attending and to guarantee the viability of our festivals for their organizers if we hope to preserve them for future generations. This calls for a deeper comprehension of the hazards and how they will evolve in response to global warming’s effects on the environment. This entails looking at how climate change can affect many aspects of the festival ecosystem, such as suppliers, staff, audiences, and performers, in addition to the effects that seen on the ground on the day of the event.

Coordination between the government and business sectors, grounded on evidence, is necessary to ensure the long-term viability of music festivals and the widespread enjoyment of their advantages. An essential first step in this process is to get scientists, legislators, and industry stakeholders together to begin these discussions.

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