Music

Hey Gladys, It Might Be Time To *Actually* Listen To The Music Industry

Over 100 industry figures have called on the NSW Premier to get serious about festival safety.

Over 100 musicians, festivals, health specialists, and industry figures have signed an open letter to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian urging her to reconsider her position on health and safety issues at festivals.

Last week, the Premier announced the formation of a “high level expert” panel to advise the government on drug safety at music festivals, following the deaths of two people at Sydney’s Defqon.1 festival. The panel is comprised of health professionals and Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, and the Chair of the Independent Office of Liquor & Gaming, Philip Crawford — but no one from the NSW music industry.

The music industry, represented by lobbying body MusicNSW, has now hit back in a passionate open letter, encouraging the premier to invite the industry to the table for discussions on health and safety at festivals.

“We have come together to request the NSW Government include music festival representatives on any expert panel established to consider health and safety issues at music festivals,” the letter reads.

“We are focused on ensuring live music and entertainment is a positive and safe experience for everyone, and the recent deaths due to drug use are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The safety and well-being of people attending music festivals is of utmost importance. Our expertise, experience, skills and research can assist you.”

The letter highlights the significant impact festivals have on the NSW economy, and warns that any ban on music festivals will “do little to curb the impacts of drugs on our communities.”

“Recreational drug-use occurs in a variety of public settings. Placing bans on music festivals will do very little to curb the impacts of drugs on our communities but may push festival-goers to less safe spaces that are harder to regulate, manage or control. Any attempt to address concerns about drug use and public safety at music festivals cannot be effective unless music industry representatives are part of the conversation.”

Berejiklian vowed to shut down Defqon.1 the day after the festival took place, stating: “I never want to see this event held in Sydney or New South Wales ever again — we will do everything we can to shut this down.”

She also remains fiercely opposed to pill testing: “Anyone who advocates pill-testing is giving the green light to drugs,” she told a press conference following Defqon.1. “There is no such thing as a safe drug and unfortunately when young people think there is, it has tragic consequences.”

MusicNSW’s letter doesn’t directly address pill testing, but does highlight the need for a discussion around drug research and policy development.

The letter has been signed by almost major festival in Australia, including Good Things, Bluesfest, FOMO Festival, Field Day, Listen Out, Lost Paradise, Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival (Secret Sounds.) Artists such as Alex the Astronaut, Nina Las Vegas, Cloud Control, Flight Facilities, Peking Duk, and KLP have also added their names.

Read the full letter below.

Dear Premier Berejiklian,

In light of recent events, we have come together to request the NSW Government include music festival representatives on any expert panel established to consider health and safety issues at music festivals.

We are focused on ensuring live music and entertainment is a positive and safe experience for everyone, and the recent deaths due to drug use are heartbreaking and deeply troubling. The safety and well-being of people attending music festivals is of utmost importance. Our expertise, experience, skills and research can assist you.

Music festivals in NSW attract 350,000 attendees a year (LPA 2016). They employ thousands of people, support small businesses and cultural tourism, and provide inclusive spaces for many different communities to come together for a positive experience. They are vital not just to the NSW economy, but also to the social and cultural vibrancy of our cities and towns.

Recreational drug-use occurs in a variety of public settings. Placing bans on music festivals will do very little to curb the impacts of drugs on our communities but may push festival-goers to less safe spaces that are harder to regulate, manage or control.

Any attempt to address concerns about drug use and public safety at music festivals cannot be effective unless music industry representatives are part of the conversation. We already work collaboratively and successfully with numerous state and local authorities and we request that this collaboration extends to participation in, and consultation with, the NSW Government’s ‘Ensuring Safety at Music Festivals’ panel.

We also request that any expert panel meet with the following in order to work together on an effective, strategic and collaborative approach to festival safety;

music industry representatives
health and safety specialists
experts in drug research and policy development
We are the voice of music in NSW. Please do not shut us out of this important part of the discussion. Together we can develop safe, legal, and practical means for ensuring festivals are safer, enjoyable places for all people in NSW.

Regards,

MusicNSW

Signed:

Alex The Astronaut

Architects of Entertainment

Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Australian Music Industry Network (AMIN)

BBE – FOMO Festival

Ben Mostyn, Founding member Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Byron Bay Bluesfest

Cattleyard Promotions – Groovin the Moo

Chugg Entertainment

Cloud Control

Crowd Manager

Dashville – The Gum Ball, Dashville Skyline

Dr Bianca Fileborn, Lecturer Criminology (UNSW Sydney)

Dr Caitlin Hughes, Criminologist and Senior Research Fellow (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Dr Monica Barratt, Social Scientist and Senior Research Fellow (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Dr Phillip Wadds, Lecturer Criminology (UNSW Sydney)

Dr Will Tregoning, Executive Director, Unharm

DSEM

Electronic Music Conference

FBi Radio

Field Day New Year’s Day

Finely Tuned Productions

Flagmen

Flight Facilities

Force Events

Fuzzy Operations – Listen Out, Harbourlife,
Curve Ball

GAS Audio Services

Good Things Festival

Hamiltons Hospitality

Handsome Tours – Fairgrounds

Hardware Corporation

Heaps Gay

Helen Gibbon, Foundation member Australian Drug Law Reform Initiative

Hermitude

Humm

ISEC SECURITY

KLP

Lost Paradise

Lucky Seven Co – Output Festival

MJR Presents – Sydney Summer Series

Morse Code PR

Ms Michala Kowalski, Research Assistant Drug Policy Modelling Program (UNSW National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre)

Nina Las Vegas – NLV Records

NYE in The Park

One Day Entertainment – One Day Sundays

Peking Duk

Pure Music Co

R-Events

R-Training

Red Square Music – Mullum Music Festival, Bello Winter Music

Reddawn Australia

Reddawn Group

RSA Marshals

Rubin Events

Secret Sounds – Splendour In the Grass, Falls Festival, Download Festival

Secure Events and Assets

Set Mo

SLAM (Save Live Australia’s Music)

Spectator Safety

St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival

Sydney Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras

This That Festival

Thundamentals

Ultra Australia

Verandah Productions – Secret Garden Festival

Wine Machine

Yours & Owls