Cost woes put end to events

Alicia PereraPilbara News
The West logo

The Pilbara’s major events calendar for 2017 is looking sparse after organisers of food and drink extravaganza Fluid Festival this month became the latest in a series to pull the pin over cost concerns.

Fluid Festival organiser and Onyx Events’ events director Sean Throssell said after doing “a fair bit of planning” towards the event, including lining up Thirsty Merc as a headline act, organisers had been unable to secure enough sponsorship to go ahead without taking on significant financial risk.

“People want to go to events but you have to get 1000 (people) out,” he said.

“It’s a lack of sponsorship and funding. And there is a lack of appropriate venues.”

The Fluid Festival broke even in its first year in 2015 but ran at a loss last year despite a line-up of high-profile music acts including former Noiseworks and INXS frontman Jon Stevens. The news comes after Blanche Bar cancelled music festival Beats in the Heat because of economic uncertainties, the Red Dog Relay was scrapped over a lack of council funding and Wrapped Creations discontinued Gossip Festival.

In Port Hedland, the fate of premier Pilbara music event the North West Festival is still up in the air, with the council having approved it but still seeking sponsorship to get it off the ground.

Mr Throssell said there was a chance Fluid Festival would go ahead next year and in the meantime Onyx would hold other, smaller boutique events later in 2017.

Wrapped Creations event director David Yakas said the Pilbara’s changed economic climate and demographics meant there was a demand for different types of events and organisers had to adapt.

He said his company had experienced success by holding a relaxed foodie event, Brew and the Moo, instead of Gossip in 2016, which had been more affordable for both organisers and attendees.

“We still spend the same amount of time and effort putting together the event,” he said.

“It’s just we avoid the cost of getting a big headline act.”

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said there was still a “great mix” of both City and privately run events on in the wider Karratha area and the City’s events budget remained strong.

“We have increased event funding with the introduction of the City Centre Activation Grant with LandCorp, which provides for an additional $300,000 over two years,” he said. “The overall budget for arts and culture events this financial year is $1.25 million.

“While entertainment-style events continue to be the key focus for the City, we are also keen to attract events that deliver an economic return to the region, supporting local businesses and economic growth.”

Mr Throssell said the demand for music festivals was still there but they had become too dear for private companies to put on without being heavily subsidised, especially in regional areas.

“They’re all really well-supported, we just don’t have that sponsorship available,” he said. “We would simplify it a lot next time round.”

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails