A cloud of doubt hangs over Wollongong's Farmer and the Owl festival scheduled for next Saturday as new music festival regulations could claim another victim.
The event, headlined by Hockey Dad and Beach House, is yet to be given its festival license. Yours and Owls and Farmer and the Owl record label are co-presenting the festival, with organisers told they will need to abide by new regulations which involve "user pays" safety measures.
Yours and Owls' Ben Tillman said they want the show to go on but they're being kept in limbo with a week to go.
He said under a risk matrix already sighted from Liquor and Gaming NSW, the event would be deemed "high risk" with potentially an expensive bill for safety attached - which could run into tens of thousands of dollars.
"We've got no idea and that's the main problem, you’re not able to pre-plan and forward think because you just don't know," Mr Tillman said.
"It's going to be pretty tight, but we'll just make that decision when it gets thrown our way."
Mr Tillman and his colleagues still hope the NSW Government to put the new rules on hold after 20,000 people turned out to Sydney's Hyde Park to protest against the changes.
"It was a massive success, hopefully that gives us more collateral and then the government actually has to listen to us," he said.
Critics believe the government's new guidelines for music festival organisers, published late last year and removed from NSW Health's website after recent backlash, suggest any outdoor event will almost certainly be considered "high-risk" or even "extreme" and be subject to a licence fee.
The Australian Festival Association said well-run festivals with excellent safety records are already being negatively impacted.
Mountain Sounds and Psyfari festival organisers have cancelled their events citing excessive costs including huge bills from NSW Police.
Despite assertions the scheme would not impact low-risk festivals, "the government has failed to provide clarity and certainty around its risk categories", the association said in a statement.
Among other issues, the rally called for the government to form a music regulation round-table to review all regulation impacting live music; develop a transparent industry standard for user-pay policing and medical services; and work with the industry to develop achievable, effective and robust safety protocols for festivals.
The NSW Government was contacted for comment on the Farmer and the Owl festival but did not respond by deadline.
- with SMH