Falls Festival falls over, other events go virtual

September 3, 2020 BY

Socially distanced crowds of people - such as at the Virgin Money Unity Arena in the UK - could be one way for festivals to go ahead this summer in Victoria.

THE Falls Festival in Lorne is the latest major event in the Geelong region to fall over because of the coronavirus pandemic this year, with organisers last week abandoning plans to hold the festival over the New Year’s Eve period.
Many other high-profile annual events have been cancelled (including the Queenscliff Music Festival), rescheduled or moved online, and it is not clear what will happen to others still set for October and November, such as Toast to the Coast.
“In May, as the nation seemed to be moving into recovery mode, we were optimistic about forging ahead and supporting our local industry with an all Aussie edition of Falls Festival,” Falls Festivals organisers wrote in a statement on their Facebook page.
“We were especially excited to reunite many live music fans, get industry crew back on the job, and contribute to the economies of the communities where Falls takes place.
However, given the current status of things and border restrictions in place, it won’t be possible to hold Falls Festival in our regular New Year’s timeframe.”
The G21 Forum typically attracts a capacity crowd of 300 people to the RACV Torquay Resort but will switch to a virtual format this year.
G21 chief executive officer Elaine Carbines said the forum was originally scheduled for August 7 but was then moved to December 4 and was then changed again to be held exclusively online.
“We’re not sure what the restrictions would be by the time December comes around, so we’ve decided to have a virtual form because we want to keep the opportunity for the people living in our region to hear some fantastic speakers.
“We’re also not sure how people would feel sitting in a crowded room with 300 other people.”
She said Stan Grant, who G21 secured as the forum’s keynote speaker, was still on board for the 2020 event.
Social distancing requirements still apply across Victoria, and large gatherings of people at festivals and other similar events appear to be out until that restriction is eased.
However, Ms Carbines said a possible solution could be found in Europe.
Venues such as the Virgin Money Unity Arena in Newcastle in the UK have private viewing platforms with groups of no more than five people watching the stage.
“It looks really odd to have people in regimented pods but it means the festival can still go ahead, and performers can still perform, and people can still enjoy the opportunity to see them… if that’s what we have to do, so be it,” Ms Carbines said.
The Toast to the Coast website states this year’s event is scheduled for November 7-8 but “Wine Geelong will be making a decision in August whether Toast to the Coast 2020 can proceed this year”.
“This will depend on government advice, social distancing requirements and COVID-19 event guidelines.”
Wine Geelong did not respond to questions from this newspaper by deadline.
The Humans in Geelong Expo and Word for Word Festival have already announced online versions of their events this year, and Amy’s Gran Fondo will be a virtual ride.
The Surf Coast Century has been rescheduled to December, and the Anglesea leg of the Trail Running Series will be held at a yet-to-be-determined date between October and January.