Splendour In The Grass promoter Secret Sounds has revealed it hopes to add an extra day, more stages and an increased capacity to upcoming Splendour events at North Byron Parklands, but is “frustrated” that it is still waiting for government approval to secure the venue as its permanent home in Byron Bay.
In September 2017, Secret Sounds secured North Byron Parklands as the home for Splendour 2018 and 2019, but organisers have since applied to make the venue its permanent home, in an attempt to also expand the festival’s footprint.
Speaking at Parliament House in Sydney today as part of a continuing inquiry into New South Wales’ music and arts economy, Secret Sounds co-CEO Jessica Ducrou said the company can’t go through with its Splendour expansion until it is granted approval from the NSW Government.
“We would like to add more stages, we would like to grow the experience of the festival, we would like more people to be able to attend and experience the festival. We can’t offer anyone that,” Ducrou said.
“If we don’t get approval this year, we can’t add the stages, add an extra day to the program — which is what we’d like to do — because we don’t have enough time to schedule the talent before we launch the show next year.”
Ducrou said promoters would prefer to add an extra day onto the typical Splendour weekend instead of running the festival across two weekends, but stressed that organisers “need” to get a decision from the NSW Government “by the end of this year at the absolute latest”.
“We’re concerned with how slow the Department [Of Planning] are moving, and I guess I’m seeking some kind of support into trying to put pressure on the Department to process this application before the year is out,” she said.
“The reason we need it approved before [next] year, is that it will allow us both the growth that we need to survive – if we don’t have it this year then we’re going to be sort of treading water for another 12 months. It’s been a very frustrating process.”
If Secret Sounds doesn’t receive approval for permanence at North Byron Parklands, Ducrou said the company would have to consider taking Splendour back to the Queensland town of Woodford (where Splendour took place in 2010 and 2011), but said it was “not ideal”.
“I’m really not sure what we’d do. That’s the point I guess the festival would cease to exist,” she said.
Ducrou said Secret Sounds has spent $30 million on infrastructure at North Byron Parklands, but has since stopped investing in the land due to a lack of permanency.
While Secret Sounds is seeking a permanent home at North Byron Parklands, concerns have been raised over a planned $42 million redevelopment of the venue, which would allow it to host up to 50,000 people at Splendour In The Grass, up from around 32,500 people.
Splendour In The Grass 2018 took place in July this year, featuring headline performance from Kendrick Lamar, Lorde and Vampire Weekend.