The creators of the Splendour in the Grass festival have received more than $1.5 million to underwrite a new festival in 2021.
The grant to Secret Sounds Group, which also runs Falls Festival, is the largest awarded to NSW arts and entertainment projects by the federal government as part of its strategy to kick-start the devastated sector.
Crowds at Splendour in the Grass music festival in 2019.Credit:Paul Harris
Twenty-eight organisations in NSW are to share in $17.8 million – the state's slice of $60 million allocated from the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) fund.
Federal arts minister Paul Fletcher said 22 of the funded organisations were in metropolitan locations and six in regional NSW.
Organisers of the Byron Bay Bluesfest have received $1 million to run the Easter long weekend event in a COVID-19 safe fashion and rebuild after this year's cancellation.
Bluesfest director Peter Noble said the extra assistance, while no magic bullet, would allow the event to either make a minor profit or cushion any losses if it failed to sell out.
In 2021, the festival will have an all-Australian lineup and run at half size, with half as many stages, and half the usual 30,000 capacity audience. About 70 percent of tickets have been sold.
Implementing COVID-19 safe strategies is estimated to have added $400,000 to the festival's costs in the form of extra security, temperature checks, and crowd management.
With an investment of $15 million at risk, Noble says there was "nothing wrong with breaking even at this time". "Being in the arts is never about getting rich."
Support from the federal government was deeply appreciated, he said, and would be needed by the arts sector for "some time into the future".
Other recipients include the independent CDP Theatre Producers which received $326,298 to mount a 15-week national tour of the stage adaptation of Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
The family-friendly Australian production of the Carle children's classic will feature more than 75 puppets.
Secret Sounds remained closed-lipped about their plans with its co-chief executive Jessica Ducrou saying only they were thrilled to receive financial support and recognition for the "exciting innovative project we look forward to launching in 2021". Both Splendour and the Grass and Falls Festival have been cancelled for 2020.
The government said support would contribute to the "development of a festival that would keep audiences connected while also reaching new audiences across Australia and overseas".
The Australian Theatre for Young People received $751,432 to re-imagine youth theatre in the digital age and relocate them to their new home in Walsh Bay arts precinct.
In April, the national youth theatre company had been rocked when it failed to secure multi-year funding from the Australia Council.
ATYP chairman Chris Puplick said the funding would allow the company the breathing space it needs to return to live performance and ready itself for the opportunities of 2022 when it moves to Pier 2/3.
The Darlinghurst Theatre Company has been awarded $605,562 to stage a 21 week regional NSW and national city tour of a modern-day musical featuring an ensemble of Australian musicians and performers. A version will be produced for online streaming and special regional screenings.
"The arts, screen, and cultural sectors provide an annual contribution of $16.4 billion to the NSW economy, so our funding is directed at getting these sectors back up and running and helping kick-start the NSW economy," Mr Fletcher said.
"But the arts are just as valuable for their own sake, and after a tough year like this, the enjoyment and recreation we derive from the arts will never be more welcome.
"Our Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund is helping at the local level, whether it’s through supporting Byron Bay’s Bluesfest, or a national tour of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show."
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