Mountain Sounds Festival, set to take place in Kariong, NSW next week, has been cancelled, with organisers citing the NSW government’s “war on festivals” as a contributing factor.
Organisers announced the cancellation on Facebook this morning, writing:
“We are devastated to announce the cancellation of Mountain Sounds 2019. The event will not be going ahead at Mount Penang Parklands next week.
We, like many of you, have seen the festival climate continue to diminish in Australia. NSW in particular is in dire straits. This is yet another example of the government’s war on festivals.”
They explained that they had already downsized the festival site, cancelling over 20 acts, in order to be able to meet “newly imposed safety, licensing and security costs” and maintain the wellbeing of attendees.
Then, seven days before the festival was due to start on Friday February 15th, “further conditions and financial obligations were imposed on the festival, which were impossible to meet.”
These financial obligations came in the form of a $200,000 bill for an increased police presence – from the 11 quoted for them in January up to 45 police officers.
The organisers went on to say:
“Our friends in the music industry will understand on a personal level how soul-destroying this is. For music lovers around the country, we know this will deeply resonate with you too. This impacts each and every one of you. NSW residents, please keep this at the forefront of your mind as the next election nears in 6 weeks’ time.
The Liberal party’s war on festivals in NSW is real and it’s robbing you of your freedom and culture. Who would’ve known that lock-out laws were just the beginning of the death of live entertainment in NSW. This has now spread to larger-scale and multi-day regional events and it’s only getting worse.”
Mountain Sounds was due to take place on NSW’s Central Coast next weekend, with artists like Angus & Julia Stone, What So Not and Courtney Barnett scheduled to perform.
The first Mountain Sounds was held in 2014, and last year’s festival included artists like Gang of Youths, Amy Shark and Ali Barter. According to organisers, last year’s festival had 16,000 attendees, 11 police officers, and no major drug-related incidents.
The announcement follows an announcement from Psyfari on Wednesday that their 2019 festival would not go ahead. Like Mountain Sounds, Psyfari also cited the NSW government’s ‘war on festivals’.
As of March, a new licensing scheme for music festivals held in NSW will be introduced. Meanwhile, the NSW government under Premier Gladys Berejiklian continues to argue the merits of pill testing while the ‘music festival death toll’ continues to climb.