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Australia Preps World-First COVIDsafe Festival

John Butler
Kane Hibberd

John Butler

Desperate times call for radical measures. An Australian entrepreneur believes he has hit upon a solution: a unique COVIDsafe festivals format that could be replicated everywhere.

John Butler, Xavier Rudd and Josh Pyke are among the artists booked to perform next month at Western Australia’s Good Day Sunshine festival, a 5,000-capacity outdoor event developed from a world-first site design.

The game changer? The grounds at Barnard Park on the Busselton Foreshore will be split into four segments, each boasting a 1,2500 capacity with their own amenities, entry and exit points and bars, and named after popular surf spots in the region (Cobblestones, Windmills, The Point and Injidup).

Also, the all-Australian bill will perform in the round, on a revolving platform known as The Turntable Stage.

Slated for Oct. 31, Good Day Sunshine is spearheaded by Ross Macpherson and his team at Macro Music, a boutique music management and events company based in Fremantle.

“I would be flattered if this format was to be used by other events in Australia and across the world,” Macpherson comments.

“The sooner we can get large scale live events back up and running, the better for everyone. I am excited to see what innovation comes from this pandemic; it is a great opportunity for some creative thinking from the live music community.”

A raft of COVIDsafe measures will be implemented on the day, including signage and super screen messaging reminding patrons to physically distance. A COVID safety officer will direct dedicated teams, who will frequently refill hand sanitiser stations and clean shared facilities.

The reduced capacity for each space reduces the risk of any virus spread, lowers the numbers for contact tracing in the event of an outbreak and allows for a maxed-out spacing of 2 sqm per person.

Summer is coming. And, so far, Western Australia has managed to avoid the disruption and lockdowns seen in some eastern spots, due largely to its geographical position and hard border.

It’s the perfect place and time to test a post-COVID festival, Macpherson enthuses.

“It feels like WA can offer a lifeline to the music industry at the moment,” he tells Billboard. “We can’t lose sight of the fact just how lucky we are right now. We’re in a very lucky situation.”

According to reps for the event, tickets are about to sell out.