Newtown Festival
Newtown Festival in 2018 | Photo by Kirsten Muller

Sydney’s Newtown Festival Calls It a Day After More Than 40 Years

The organisers of Newtown Festival, the annual music and community event held in the titular inner west Sydney suburb since 1978, have announced the festival’s closure after more than four decades. Newtown Neighbourhood Centre, who the festival raises funds for each year, said in a statement on the website that they no longer have the capacity to operate the event.

“Over the last 40 years, Newtown Festival has experienced significant growth, with many more businesses, sponsors and people attending the event,” the statement reads. “While this has been exciting to witness, this large-scale financial endeavour has eclipsed the resources, capabilities and purpose of NNC. After years of careful consideration, which involved reviewing a number of possible funding scenarios and business cases, as well as community consultation, NNC’s board has made the decision to discontinue the festival.”

The NNC said that the decision to pull the pin on the festival was informed by reviewing the profit and loss statements from previous festivals and resourcing requirements, as well as consultation with the community. These reviews found that if the NNC were to continue to run Newtown Festival as a free event – as it has been for many years, with an expected donation of $5 or more – the centre would be “severely impacted financially, putting key services and staffing at risk.”

Since its launch, the festival has raised funds for the Newtown Neighbourhood Centre to continue providing frontline services to those experiencing hardship, including homeless outreach and aged care and family services.

Spanning many genres, the festival’s eclectic music lineup over the years has featured both beloved acts and emerging artists. The 2018 edition, for example, hosted a performance by a then up-and-coming rapper by the name of The Kid LAROI. Each year, the festival also hosted an array of market stalls, workshops and other community-oriented attractions.

Organisers said that the last time the festival took place – in 2019 – more than 40,000 people attended. “As the scale of Newtown Festival grew over time, more resources were required to support bookings, logistics, security, fencing, and insurance, stretching the centre’s team and finances.” Community surveys showed limited interest in a mandatory entry fee to support the event.

In lieu of Newtown Festival, the centre will participate in three other Inner West Council events to drive awareness of their services: SummerFest, Marrickville Music Festival and the St.Anmore (Stanmore) Music Festival. For one of these events, the centre will be a charity partner.

Further Reading

Brisbane’s Sonic Masala 2023 Lineup: Deafcult, Velociraptor, Vintage Crop and More

Live Music Lineup Announced for Melbourne’s Reclink Community Cup 2023

BENEE, Matt Corby and More to Play Springtime 2023

Must Read