Australia’s Homebake Festival Falls Flat

Australia’s saturated festivals market has had another casualty – Homebake.

Organizers today canceled the 2013 edition, noting the decision was “heartbreaking stuff.”

This year’s birthday-themed Homebake in central Sydney was meant to feature a line-up of all-local talent including Paul Kelly, Gurrumul, The Presets and Birds of Tokyo, and was to run from Dec. 6-8.

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Homebake 2013 was supposed to represent a bright new era for a popular event that was established in 1996 with a “homegrown music” format. A month ago, organizers took the bold decision to reconfigure the show to a three-day program and switch venue to the Sydney Opera House, which this year celebrates its 40th anniversary. “It's going to be one hell of a celebration,” co-promoter Michael Chugg said at the time.

The move from the Domain venue to the Opera House was intended to dodge a potential clash with another show, Harvest, which “appealed to a similar audience” and was scheduled to run just two weeks earlier at the same site.

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Tuesday’s cancelation, organizers note, was made after studying feedback from social media sites and the box offices, which revealed that festival goers had “rejected this change in format from one day to three nights and the change in venue.”

Promoters largely agree that Australia’s hyper-active summer festivals space simply had to cool off. The collapse of Homebake adds fuel to that argument. This year’s Pyramid Rock, Peats Ridge and even Harvest festivals have canceled, and a raft of hip-hop events have fallen over or downsized.

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Homebake organizers note “what is achingly ironic” that the event that forced its relocation had since disappeared, though it was now “simply too late to revert back to our true home.”

Its not the first time Homebake has switched-gears. The festival took the year off in 2010 when a major-league local act couldn’t be booked. In 2012, the fest tweaked its formula with the announcement of an international headliner, Blondie. At the time, co-promoter Joe Segreto noted that the times were particularly tough for festival operators, telling Billboard, “The public are being a little more discerning about how they’re spending their money and that has a lot to do with the public worldwide tightening their belt.”