Popular music festival cancellation sparks outrage
The cancellation of one of a popular music festival north of Warwick has sparked outrage from organisers and fears over the future of the region’s entertainment scene.
Arcadia V has been called off indefinitely after Southern Downs Regional Council decided at its Wednesday meeting to deny a permit for the once-annual Goomburra Valley event, scheduled for May 1-3.
Warwick Police lodged a formal objection to the event in February, which inspector and area commander David Preston told the Daily News was representative of emergency services’ public safety concerns at any music festival.
SDRC then stated they would be unable to grant a permit unless the police sentiment changed, with Arcadia organisers asking the council for the review in which their event was officially refused.
With hundreds of tickets sold only six weeks out from the festival, which was postponed in 2020 due to COVID, Arcadia organiser Eddie Kingswell said the refusal would likely make the event’s cancellation permanent.
“Being under the understanding everything was all good (until February), we’ve been working quite hard and spent a lot of time and money,” Mr Kingswell said.
“We have always tried to create a culture and community that is there to experience new bands and new artists rather than get carried away with anything else, and I think that’s been pretty evident at our events.
“We’ve applied to (the) council and at every level we’ve been told we aren’t welcome, so I don’t see how we could make our event work. If it doesn’t fit in, I don’t know how we can make it fit in.”
A council report revealed the police opposition stemmed from a document from 2019 from then-QPS Southern Region assistant commissioner Mike Condon, citing prevalent substance abuse at previous Southern Downs festivals such as Rabbits Eat Lettuce as major concerns.
Noise complaints, a drain on police resources, and Warwick’s “community expectations” as a conservative area were listed as additional reasons for the QPS objection.
Southern Downs councillors largely supported the opposition from authorities, with Mayor Vic Pennisi joined by councillors Ross Bartley, Stephen Tancred, Andrew Gale, Cameron Gow, and Cynthia McDonald in voting for the refusal.
“We have to put public safety at front of mind, and even though the organisers are trying very hard to do a quality event that is safe, they cannot be responsible for the patrons … and the substances they take,” Cr Tancred said.
The decision was met with fierce opposition from councillors Marco Gliori and Sheryl Windle, who argued the cancellation of Arcadia and similar festivals would force youth out of the community.
“When I hear this region described as rural and conservative, an older population not supportive of these events, that definition worries me,” Cr Gliori said.
“Without diverse festivals in this region, we will be encouraging our youth to continually travel (away), where youthful exuberance and cultural experimentation are accepted and sometimes encouraged.”
“I wonder if the police were to drug test or go to the Apple and Grape Festival or the Warwick Rodeo, (whether) they would come back with more numbers than that rather than just this particular type of group who seems to be targeted,” Cr Windle added.
An additional council motion was voted through to consult with QPS in designing an events management strategy that could allow music festivals in the future.