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Bluesfest forced to cancel at the eleventh hour

The news has prompted fresh calls for a government insurance scheme, which Live Performance Australia says is “now a matter of urgency”

By IQ on 31 Mar 2021

Byron Bay Bluesfest, New South Wales

Bluesfest will forego another edition

image © Wikimedia Commons/Evan Malcolm

Byron Bay Bluesfest 2021 has been cancelled by a public health order, a mere 24 hours before doors were due to open to the public.

The New South Wales (NSW) government announced on Wednesday (30 March) that Bluesfest would not be permitted to go ahead on its scheduled dates, Thursday 31 March to Monday 5 April, due to a new Covid case in Byron Bay.

Bluesfest confirmed the cancellation in a statement published late afternoon on 31 March. “We are heartbroken that Covid-19 has spread into our local community,” it read. “We are getting the message out as quickly as possible so that those traveling to the event can make alternate arrangements.”

Read the full Bluesfest statement via our website:

Posted by Bluesfest Byron Bay on Tuesday, March 30, 2021


In a statement, Minister Hazzard said: “While the cancellation of Bluesfest is disappointing for music lovers and the local community, I hope that ticket holders would support Bluesfest and hold on to their tickets as I understand Bluesfest will be working on a new date as soon as possible.”

Under an NSW Health-approved Covid-19 safety plan, Bluesfest 2021 was set to operate at approximately 50% of normal capacity and production, hosting around 16,500 people on each of its five days, with an all-Australian line-up.

The cancellation marks the second time the festival has been called off due to the coronavirus.

The last-minute cancellation of Bluesfest has prompted fresh calls for a government insurance scheme that would help live events redeem their costs in the event of an eleventh-hour cancellation.

Live Performance Australia and the Australian Festival Association, which have been advocating for a business interruption fund for the last year, say it’s “now a matter of urgency”.

“Govt has a Covid insurance system for the film industry. Music needs one too. Urgently”

Bluesfest’s Peter Noble had called for such a fund at the beginning of the year. A business interruption fund, he wrote on Facebook, would “incentivise event presenters to put on events and be protected in not going to the wall, should an out break of Covid shut down their businesses at short notice and protect artists, crew and suppliers [to] get paid should that occur”.

“The federal government did it more than six months ago for the film industry to get them back to making movies. Why are we still waiting?” he wrote.

Shadow Arts Minister Tony Burke has also called for a “Covid insurance system” for live music. “The music industry is full of viable profitable businesses unable to function because of public health,” he wrote on Twitter. “Govt has a Covid insurance system for the film industry. Music needs one too. Urgently.”

In the last year, insurance schemes have been announced in Germany (€2.5bn), Austria (€300m), the Netherlands (€300m), Belgium (€60m), Norway (€34m) Denmark (DKK 500m) and Estonia (€6m).

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