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Sydney Symphony Under the Stars at Sydney Festival
Photoraph: Supplied | Sydney Symphony Under the Stars

NSW government announces $43 million fund to support festivals cancelled due to Covid

There’s a “light at the end of the tunnel”, promises NSW treasurer Matt Kean

Alannah Maher
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Alannah Maher
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"My message to the community is that there is light at the end of the tunnel”. This promise was made by NSW treasurer Matt Kean at a press conference on the morning of Monday January 17 where he announced a $43 million fund to support events and festivals impacted by the Omicron surge.

Many festivals have been cancelled or postponed since the new year due to the impacts of Covid, including the much-anticipated King Street Carnival, a three-day bonanza which was due to take over Newtown from January 14-16, and the famous annual Tamworth Country Music Festival. Bans on singing and dancing along with capacity requirements have also made live music venues and nightclubs logically difficult to even open this month. Meanwhile, the Hillsong Church has come under fire for footage that has been circulating of unmasked crowds singing and dancing at events in NSW.

"We've seen from international experience and based on the modelling that NSW Health has provided us that over the next four to six weeks, there will be a significant decrease in cases across the community,” Kean said today.

"Whilst this is a health crisis, there is also significant economic impacts being felt. That's why today, we're here to announce support for one section of the economy — that's the events and festivals section. Events play an important role in supporting us and other industries across the state. They're doing it tough [through] those changes in the public health orders.”

"This fund is a $43 million fund that will ensure that we will underwrite sunk costs for the festivals that could be impacted [due] to changes to public health orders.

The treasurer added that more measures to support other sections of the economy will be announced in the coming days. 

Some festivals are forging ahead under the current restrictions, including Sydney Festival, which brings over 100 events to the city this month including the Speakers Corner concert series, and Flickerfest, which kicks off from January 21.

Has NSW's Omicron outbreak reached its peak? Both state and federal health experts think so.

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