HomeBrewed festival claims $5million in losses after cancellation due to SA’s COVID-19 restrictions

The Adelaide event’s director called on the state government to “give us a clear roadmap and stick to it so we can plan for the future”

The second edition of Adelaide’s HomeBrewed festival – an offshoot of the annual Beer And BBQ Fest – has been axed weeks out, with organisers citing the SA government’s tightened social restrictions amid surging COVID-19 cases and claiming the cancellation has resulted in losses exceeding $5million.

The festival was due to go down over the weekend of January 21-23, with performers including Teenage Joans, Bad//Dreems and Horror My Friend. In a statement shared today (January 4), the festival’s organisers said they were following guidelines that were due to be enacted last Tuesday (December 28) which would allow them to proceed with a COVID-safe event.

However, with the state government now confirming that restrictions – including bans on “vertical consumption” and dancing – will remain in place until at least January 27, the team behind HomeBrewed announced the cancellation of this year’s event. According to The Music, the festival said this resulted in financial losses of over $5million.

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Organisers claimed that approximately $1.6million of that comes down to lost revenue from over 100 local businesses, including brewers, restaurants, artists, crew and more. A further $60,000 is tied up in artist fees, with a total of 92 performers initially billed to appear. Roughly $825,000 is attributed to lost hours of labour, with over 900 casual employees (including more than 150 hired directly by the organisers) losing out on around 16,500 hours of work.

The remaining $2.5million, organisers said, would have been generated by inter- and intra-state tourism.

The event’s director, Gareth Lewis, explained to Glam Adelaide that although he’s appreciative of the SA government’s financial assistance – allowing the festival to recoup up to $100,000 of costs already incurred – “by imposing the harshest restrictions on trade since June 2020 and by far the most restrictive in the country currently, the forced cancellation of just HomeBrewed Festival is much further reaching”.

“Our industry desperately wants to get back to work in a safe format,” he continued, “but the constantly changing goalposts and inconsistency of any real financial support, coupled with total lack of empathy or respect, have to lead to the destruction of businesses and livelihoods.”

HomeBrewed “simply can’t run… in a seated format” nor be postponed due to its boutique status – as competing with the likes of Adelaide Festival, Adelaide Fringe and WOMADelaide “is simply not viable”, Lewis said.

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He called on the SA government to “engage with the events and hospitality industries, end the state of emergency, develop a proper events insurance scheme as other states have, give us a clear roadmap and stick to it so we can plan for the future”.

In a statement to NME, Lewis said: “The cruel thing about our industry currently is that we have a state government who essentially sees what we do for a living as a frivolous, dangerous hobby that can be dictated to and outlawed at the drop of a hat. Everyone in live music, hospitality and events knows we can not just pivot to work from home and it’s disappointing that almost two years into this mess we still receive little or no empathy, understanding or financial assistance from any tier of government.

“I’m more than happy to wax lyrical about the systemic breaches of trust between government and law abiding creative industry businesses but it continues to fall on deaf ears. Our glimmer of hope here is that a change of government in March will at least provide us with an avenue to engage and input directly with decision makers before the mental health toll begins to add up to more damage than the toll of coronavirus itself.”

All tickets purchased for this year’s HomeBrewed festival will be refunded (though organisers warn that “due to the number of cancellations, [their] refund process is taking slightly longer than usual”). At the time of writing, the primary Beer And BBQ Fest is slated to go ahead as planned, taking place from Friday July 15 through to Sunday 17.

The cancellation comes amid a surge of COVID-19 cases across Australia, leading to several events either being postponed or scrapped altogether. Recent outings to face the axe include last year’s Origin Fields festival, Yours & Owls’ New Years Eve event, and King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard’s Timeland festival.

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