NSW Labor introduce motion for Bluesfest targeted grant

The festival, cancelled a day out from commencement, was recently rescheduled to October

NSW Labor have continued their fight to support Byron Bay Bluesfest in the wake of its shock 2021 cancellation, introducing a motion in state parliament to give the festival a targeted grant.

After the festival was cancelled one day out from its commencement date back in April when a locally transmitted COVID-19 case was recorded in the Byron Bay area, Shadow music minister John Graham made public statements calling for a business interruption fund for music festivals.

Now, the state opposition party have made that support more concrete with State Member for Lismore Janelle Saffin MP, moving in the legislative assembly that the festival be given “a targeted grant” and calling again for the government to “establish a broader festival interruption fund to support the music industry and small businesses reliant on it for survival”.

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“I have previously been in contact with Bluesfest founder Peter Noble OAM, and have met with local small business people who play and trade at this fantastic festival. I’m in their corner,” Saffin said in her speech to the assembly.

The call came yesterday, almost simultaneously with surprise news that Bluesfest would reschedule its 2021 event to October, taking place over the long weekend of October 1-4. Organisers have also suggested the lineup – which previously included Tash SultanaJimmy Barnes and other acts – will not be the same, with a new bill of artists set to be announced next week.

While April’s festival was spread over five days, the forthcoming instalment will take place across four. Organisers have said patrons who are holding five-day tickets can expect “something very special in store” next week.

Hopes that a business interruption fund for the music industry would be introduced nationally were dashed this week with the release of the federal budget. Local film and TV production banked an additional $50.8million in 2021-22 through the Temporary Interruption Fund, following the initial $50million last year to provide an economic safety net for financiers hesitant to fund productions during the pandemic.

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