Organisers say the cancellation of Bluesfest 2020 was not only a huge cultural loss to the community, but also a massive financial loss. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star
Organisers say the cancellation of Bluesfest 2020 was not only a huge cultural loss to the community, but also a massive financial loss. Photo Marc Stapelberg / The Northern Star

BLUES: Festival’s cancellation blows a $117M hole in economy

BLUESFEST organisers say the cancellation of the 2020 event due to the COVID-19 was a tragedy that cost the Northern Rivers community almost $117 million and 745 full-time jobs.

Backing the claim is an Economic Impact Report, commissioned by Bluesfest and undertaken by Reuben Lawrence Consulting, an independent consultancy firm whose reports are accepted and referred to by official authorities.

Bluesfest crowds 2018.
Bluesfest crowds 2018.

Festival director Peter Noble said the report showed, because of the pandemic, "our community is not only culturally poorer but also financially poorer" and highlighted the impact one large live music event like Bluesfest has on the economy of the country.

"The entertainment industry is worth $111 billion in Australia. We promote the arts; we bring jobs and the trickle-down effect means that people in the broader community have an income they wouldn't otherwise have.," Mr Noble said.

He said the report showed the community missed out on an injection of $116.9 million gross revenue and 745.3 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs due to the cancellation of Bluesfest, and cost NSW $203.6 million gross revenue and 1158 full time jobs.

"When Bluesfest 2021 was cancelled by NSW Public Health Order just three weeks before the festival, our hearts were broken and so were those of so many of our loyal patrons, who were looking forward to their annual beloved Bluesfest experience," Mr Noble said.

Bluesfest Director Peter Noble.
Bluesfest Director Peter Noble.

Mr Noble said organisers were working hard to provide a COVID-19 safe event next Easter.

"We are working with the relevant authorities to ensure that happens, so the public can remain safe and to provide the wealth and jobs in the future that Bluesfest creates. We have 1500 people in the form of production staff, event contractors, bar staff etc, and 500 artists, working directly on our festival every Easter, who all want to go back to work."

Statistics (Economic Impact Report)

Mr Noble said the report compared levels of revenue and employment from last year when the event was held, to this year, when it was cancelled, and the results were "alarming".

2019

• Bluesfest generated 858 full time equivalent jobs on the Northern Rivers and 1333 in NSW

• Bluesfest generated $163 million in the Northern Rivers and $277 million in NSW

2020

• Bluesfest generated only 36.2 jobs (FTE) on the Northern Rivers and 46.8 in NSW

• Bluesfest generated an output of $7.6 million on the Northern Rivers and $10.7 million in NSW with the festival being cancelled three weeks prior to its occurrence.

 

The loss due to the festival's cancellation in 2020 was estimated to be $116.9 million for the Northern Rivers and $203.6 million for NSW, that resulted in a loss of 745.3 jobs (FTE) on the Northern Rivers and 1158 jobs (FTE) in NSW.


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