Bluesfest leads the fourth round of RISE funding with $2.4million boost

Falls Festival, WOMADelaide and Festival X follow close behind with over $1million each

The fourth tranche of funding from the Federal Government’s RISE (Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand) initiative has been announced, headlined by a $2.4million boost for the Byron Bay Bluesfest to help get its 2021 edition over the line.

The news comes following last week’s damning reports that over half of the $200million committed to RISE since its launch in June of 2020 remained unspent. Announced yesterday (July 30), the fourth round of funding totals $39.3million to be shared between 82 projects.

The Music reports that close to 40 of those projects are focused on live music, making this the RISE program’s largest investment in the sector. Altogether, the boost marks an increase of almost $15million over the third round of RISE funding, issued in May at approximately $25million.

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$2.4million of round four’s funding is promised to the Byron Bay Bluesfest, whose 2021 instalment is scheduled to take place over the long weekend of October 1-4. It was previously booked in for April’s Easter long weekend, before being cancelled one day out due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Byron Bay.

The rescheduled edition sports an all-Australian lineup headlined by Midnight Oil (who confirmed they’ll be launching their forthcoming 13th album at the event), Paul Kelly, Tash Sultana and Jimmy Barnes.

The Falls Music & Arts Festival is set to receive the second highest amount from the new wave of RISE funding, with almost $1.5million committed to supporting its 2021/2022 edition. Falls axed its 2020/2021 edition out of concerns arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic; it was the first time the festival had missed a year since its 1996 inception.

Other festivals benefitting from the push in RISE funding include WOMADelaide (with $1.2million), Festival X ($1million), Under The Southern Stars ($1million) and Good Things Festival ($889,600).

The full list of recipients has been made available from the Australian Government website.

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Upon yesterday’s announcement of the RISE program’s fourth round of funding, The Music spoke with Paul Fletcher – Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts of Australia – who said: “What we’ve sought to do from a Commonwealth point of view is tailor our RISE funds to better support music.

“So, we’ve now cumulatively committed $200 million. We initially announced $75 million in the RISE fund last year, we topped it up with another $125 million during the budget. And following some recent consultations, we’ve tweaked the rules to try and make it work better for the music sector.”

Shadow Minister for the Arts, Tony Burke, also spoke on his efforts to push for a program that would support workers affected by restrictions and closures imposed on venues.

He told The Music: “For the artists and the workers and everybody, through to road crew and people working in bars at venues: effectively we need to have a form of JobKeeper that everybody will be eligible for. Now, the Government, at the moment, they’re still saying no to it. But when we first called for a wage subsidy last year they were saying no to it, they were describing it as dangerous. So, they might be saying no – I’m not giving up!”

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