Image: Ian Laidlaw

Yours & Owls Festival Organisers Say Industry Is Working in a “Lottery System” After 2021 Event

The organisers of Yours & Owls Festival have talked about the added stress that came with putting together this year’s event amid the coronavirus pandemic and resultant restrictions.

The Wollongong festival successfully took place over the weekend with a lineup that included the likes of Tones and I, Hockey Dad and many more.

Wth a COVID-safe plan that meant punters were even allowed to dance, it was the first major scale live music festival to take place in NSW in the past year, and came after a slew of logistical challenges and setbacks. Now, in a wrap statement, organisers have discussed those challenges and their impact on being able to run the festival this year.

“Knowing that we could have been cancelled at any stage due to health orders, no matter how prepared we were or how hard we worked, with no insurance cover, added an incredible layer of stress to this year’s event,” reads the statement. Organisers went on to acknowledge the frustration of watching the disparity in restrictions between large-scale sporting events and large-scale music events.

“Being told there is a difference between sports fans screaming, and music fans singing is infuriating. Our industry is working within a lottery system right now; no matter how prepared we are, how well we do our jobs; it is down to pure luck as to whether we go ahead successfully or end up in financial ruin,” organisers said.

“This isn’t right. We need the same respect, support and certainty that is being awarded to sport. Music fans need to be able to access music, the same way sports fans access games… We hope more of our industry colleagues will be able to present their shows to music fans moving forward, with more protection and certainty and minus some of the stress we have experienced.”

The statement comes just a few weeks after Byron Bay’s Bluesfest was cancelled for the second year in a row due to the risk of COVID-19 in the area, with a public health order put in place. “We feel deeply for everybody affected, the fans, the artists, and the hard-working Bluesfest team. But in the end, the health of our community must come first,” festival director Peter Noble said at the time.

The cancellation renewed calls for a festival-specific government-backed insurance scheme to be put in place, with peak music bodies stressing the need for a way for organisers to recoup losses in the event of a cancellation

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