The 2015 instalment of Soulfest was cancelled earlier this week, with organisers citing “poor ticket sales” for the festival’s demise. While some ticket holders later called bullshit on this claim, the festival has since revealed just how bad ticket sales actually were.
Speaking with triple j, Soulfest promoter John Denison says Soulfest 2015 needed to be scrapped in order to avoid terrible financial loses.
Mr Denison says Soulfest needed to sell “37,000 tickets nationally” in order to break even. “As at Friday we had sold 48 per cent of our break even target,” he says, adding that the Melbourne leg of the event had sold less than 7,500 tickets.
“It was a simple case of cancelling now or going ahead with the festival and leaving a trail of millions dollars of unserviceable debt to local suppliers and leaving a raft of businesses in tatters,” Mr Denison says.
“That was clearly not an option — the decision to cancel was made with a very heavy heart. We had already invested millions of [dollars] in artists payments, venue deposits, marketing, accommodation, and travel deposits that are non refundable.
“We tried till the very last minute to lift ticket sales through offers but there was simply not enough interest to cover the $2M-plus shortfall. The only person out of pocket here is the promoter and rightly so. No one else should suffer financially.”
Mr Denison says the Soulfest team is very disappointed with the final outcome, but maintains that all the advertised artists were on board.
“This was a massive slap in the face for the festival, thinking we had an event and high profile artists that would appeal to at least 10 – 12,000 people per show. But when you have Melbourne having sold under 7500 tickets — it’s really a disappointing show of support and demoralizing to all involved,” he says.
“There are a lot of hurtful comments in the marketplace saying that artists were not confirmed or not coming — hence the cancellation – all you have to do is to sight our visas secured for each one of the artists.
“All the artists were supportive to the end – not one negative comment came from their mouths and that should be a testament to the event we were trying to put on. There was general excitement from everyone that was attending the festivals, to working on the festival to performing on the festivals.”
Soulfest 2015 was slated to hit Sydney and Melbourne next week, boasting artists such as Mary J. Blige, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Miguel, Remi and De La Soul, but was cancelled on Wednesday, 14th October, giving ticket holders little notice.
While Soulfest ticket holders have been offered full refunds, some are rightfully annoyed at the festival’s last-minute cancellation, given that they may have also purchased travel and accommodation for the event. A number of punters have taken to social media since the cancellation to slam organisers for the last-minute announcement.
According to Soulfest organisers, anyone who bought tickets to the festival online or by phone will have their money automatically refunded within 14 days, while others who made bookings at ticketing outlets will have to return their tickets in order to claim a refund.
Gallery: Soulfest 2014 Sydney, 18.10.14 / Photos: Liam Cameron