Music festival cancelled as organisers lash out
ORGANISERS of the Psyfari music festival have cancelled the event for 2019 after a "David and Goliath battle" against the NSW Government.
The BYO camping bush doof, one of the largest rural music festivals in Australia, was due to celebrate its 10th year this September.
In a lengthy Facebook post, organisers blamed the "current political climate" and a "war on festivals" among other issues for the shutdown.
"Excessive rules, bans on BYO alcohol, overly heavy police presences, this is not what we had in mind," organisers said.
"Festivals with a ticket price of $500 are also not what we had in mind, but it seems likely that this is the way things are going, with one of the government's best weapons being the ability to force excessive costs onto events in order to phase them out".
They also described themselves the "new scapegoat of a failed government" and lashed out at the "war on drugs" that forced their hand.
Drug-taking at music festivals has been under heavy scrutiny following the deaths of several young people over the summer period.
In the statement, Psyfari management slammed the government for blaming festival organisers for deaths while declaring drug-related tragedies at festivals make up "the tip of the iceberg".
"To put things into perspective, drug-related deaths at festivals on average make up less than 0.5% of all drug-related deaths in Australia, but festivals are an easy target, and an insignificant sacrifice to a blind government with its head in the sand," they said.
"To put blame onto festival organisers is an extreme measure".
Organisers signed off the statement with an urge to followers to vote the Liberals out of power at the state election.
"PS: And don't forget when it's time to vote … put the Liberals last, it's where they put you."
The 5,000 capacity festival, which bills itself as a "family friend", has not been without controversy after three young men died in a car crash heading home from the Blue Mountains event in 2015.
20-year-old P-plater Jordan Brown, was behind the wheel of a Mitsubishi Outlander when it spun out of control and collided with another car on the Bells Line of Road at Bilpin.
Northern beaches friends Lachlan Burleigh, 17, Ben Sawyer, 19, and Luke Shanahan, 21, were killed after the back seat they were sitting in bore the brunt of the impact.
Brown had only a few hours of sleep in three days and was succumbing to the sedative after effects of ecstasy when he fell asleep while driving.
Brown pleaded guilty to three counts of driving under the influence occasioning the deaths of his mates and was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.
Following the deaths, Mudgee police repeatedly raised concerns about the remoteness of the event but it was continually given the green light by Lithgow Council.
In the cancellation statement, organisers insisted they had always had a "greater care" for attendees than the government "ever will" and that was evidenced by conditions provided such as free drinking water, chill out spaces and shade cover.
"We had these things in place years before the authorities even knew we existed … their mentality of keeping you safe by punishing you is a backwards and outdated approach."
READ THE FULL STATEMENT HERE:
It's with great sadness we announce the cancellation of Psyfari 2019.
While we had full intention of going ahead with this, our 10th anniversary and grand finale, the current political climate surrounding festivals in NSW has made this something harder than ever before, and it really seems like a recipe for disaster.
As such, we feel the best choice is to pull the pin before further time and resources are put in to fight this David & Goliath battle.
We're truly sad to have to cancel, we had exciting things planned. Our biggest line up ever was in the works, we had a venue with incredibly supporting owners on board, and also a backup site. But these sites are in NSW, where the war on festivals has reached an all time high.
We did consider interstate venues, but options are limited in the ACT, and we feel VIC and QLD are too far. Not only would a lot of our community struggle to have the time to travel so far, but this could also put people in danger from the added risk from more time on the road. An ironic consequence given that the message behind this war on festivals is "safety"
There has never been harder times for camping festivals in NSW, with challenges and conditions slowly squeezing things too far.
When a state government's hobbies include shutting down entertainment districts and enthusiastically enforcing noise complaints, events can't be held too close to cities or built-up areas, meanwhile the same authorities complain that events in rural settings are too remote.
While the attack on music festivals is more public than ever before, this has been a battle we've been fighting for years, at times behind closed doors. The fight is usually with those who have never attended such an event and truly don't understand what it's all about, yet they've shown no mercy in wiping these events out in order to make a political point.
Either they don't seem to understand the desire for freedom and the desire to be part of a community, or they do understand and feel threatened by this.
As a crew, we've experienced both incredible highs and incredible lows. We had incredible highs as our community grew, our events grew, and we continued to receive positive feedback from both attendees and local authorities, but then balanced out with incredible lows as we landed in the sights of senior authorities who's message to us was to pack it up and walk away.
We persevered, at a cost, and unfortunately this cost has made it unrealistic for us to continue in this current climate.
From the very beginning our goal with Psyfari was to create events that we would want to attend ourselves. Events that were community focused, with a great variety of underground music, filled with art and creativity, powered by love. We feel that we succeeded in many ways, yet to move forward and completely alter the format of our events would be drifting from what we truly want to do.
Excessive rules, bans on BYO alcohol, overly heavy police presences, this is not what we had in mind. Not to mention the ongoing increased costs in running events, which will push up ticket prices. Festivals with a ticket price of $500 are also not what we had in mind, but it seems likely that this is the way things are going, with one of the government's best weapons being the ability to force excessive costs onto events in order to phase them out.
We are unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when festivals are the new scapegoat of a failed government and their failed war on drugs.
While drug-related deaths at festivals are a very serious matter, they really do make up the tip of the iceberg. To put things into perspective, drug-related deaths at festivals on average make up less than 0.5% of all drug-related deaths in Australia, but festivals are an easy target, and an insignificant sacrifice to a blind government with its head in the sand.
To put blame onto festival organisers is an extreme measure. Although new conditions such as free drinking water, chill out spaces, shade cover, these are almost laughable considering even the smallest unregulated events in this scene strive to have these things in place. We had these things in place years before the authorities even knew we existed …
From what we've seen most event organisers show a greater care for their attendees than this government ever will, and their mentality of keeping you safe by punishing you is a backwards and outdated approach.
An entire industry has collapsed in terms of bars and clubs, and the impacts are huge. Not only has it taken away thousands of jobs, but it has removed the potential for young Sydney-siders to get their foot in the door in the entertainment industry. Promoters, venue managers, production assistants, and not to mention up & coming artists, have all been robbed of this.
Keep this in mind when voting in the next election …
So what next for Noisy Chicken?
Well even though we're wrapping it up with Psyfari, we love our community and sure can't walk away from you.
We will hold occasional one-off events, perhaps at indoor venues, perhaps community camping trips, picnics. And several of the crew are still involved in other festivals, so you'll see some of us around. If you have events that you'd like us on board with, reach out, who knows we may be able to assist.
A sad day indeed, to cancel Psyfari, but we feel this is the best move.
Rather than ending on a low, we ask that you think back to all the good times you experienced at our events. Think back to the friendships formed, the things you saw, heard, felt. Keep the spirit alive, because the fight is far from over.
To all our crew and volunteers who worked tirelessly to make our events happen, to the musicians who performed, artists who displayed their work, workshop holders who shared their skills, the councils and emergency services who supported our events, and of course the punters who bought tickets and joined us year-after-year, we say thank you! Your support and involvement helped make Psyfari what it was.
Farewell for now, but not forever.
The Noisy Chickens.
PS: And don't forget when it's time to vote … put the Liberals last, it's where they put you.