Tickets for the inaugural Boomerang Festival went on sale this week, bringing together a selection of music, dance, art, film, and speakers to celebrate Indigenous culture this October.
Sales for the first-ever Boomerang Festival however have been struggling, despite being hosted at the award-winning home of Bluesfest, Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, and featuring Gurrumul and Archie Roach as headliners for the three-day event, promoter Peter Noble has noted that tickets have gotten off to an alarmingly slow start, as Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Noble says Boomerang needs to shift 3,500 tickets for each of the event’s three days in order to break even, but as of last count, only somewhere between 700 to 1,000 tickets have been sold for each day so far. In Sydney, just 74 tickets, which range from $45 to $115 per day, have been purchased – with just one of those sales reportedly being from the CBD. Melbourne hasn’t shown much interest either, buying up only 75 tickets.
An alarmingly undervalued amount in comparison to Peter Noble’s main festival venture, Bluesfest, which recently announced its 2014 lineup and last year brought “capacity crowds” of 17,000 per day, and a total attendance of 85,000, generating millions for the local economy.
Noble has linked the poor ticket sales for the inaugural Boomerang as a sign of the Australian public’s apathy towards Indigenous arts and culture. “Apathy equals cultural apartheid… if people remain apathetic, what that means is we don’t care about our indigenous Australians.”
“At one level apathy equals cultural apartheid… if people remain apathetic, what that means is we don’t care about our indigenous Australians,” Noble tells SMH. “How many people actually know an Australian indigenous person or have ever met one properly? Here’s your big chance… maybe you would be enriched as a person?”
The Bluesfest promoter has poured $1.2 million out of his own pocket into Boomerang and is determined to push on with the event next month, even it means a loss on the event, in the hopes that attendance figures will increase in future years. “We had a meeting [recently] and we all said ‘we are going to do this by hook or by crook’,” confirms Noble, who says most in his position would have pulled the plug by now; “I’m just not prepared to accept there’s not enough Australians who care [about] indigenous culture.”
Noble is hoping to give tickets a boost by adding more musical acts to the lineup, looking at adding Dan Sultan and John Williamson to the Boomerang bill, which features Busby Marou, The Medics, Thelma Plum, Casey Donovan, Moana & The Tribe, and many more.
Meanwhile, Boomerang Festival’s Artistic Director, Rhoda Roberts has said there is a direct correlation between purchasing a pass to Boomerang to experience indigenous culture and the principles of reconciliation, while voicing a personalised plea to the aims of the arts and culture festival.
“One of the reasons I am doing this is that I fear if we continue along our current lines, in 30 years our language, our culture, our dance, our art will cease to exist,” says Roberts. “There will only be remnants and that frightens me. If you truly believed in reconciliation you would buy a ticket,” she urges. “This is what we should have been doing years ago.”
Held over the October long weekend, Boomerang will feature some 133 performances and experiences celebrating Aboriginal and Indigenous culture, with 70 clan groups represented from across Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. But despite the support from the Indigenous community, Noble says he’s struggled to get mainstream media to pay any attention in the lead-up to the event.
“The media is giving us scant coverage and that level of apathy is ending up being cultural apartheid and putting us in a position where we’re wondering how are we going to pull this off,” the Bluesfest promoter tells ABC. “We’re putting on the best of the best and we’re banging our heads every day going to media and saying can we get an article in Spectrum can we get the Courier Mail to cover us, we can’t and I think that’s an issue.”
“It’s all about apathy, why in this country if we really care about indigenous people why don’t we want to go out there and be part of learning about their culture and taking those opportunities when they are presented to us,” says Noble.
You can read and download the full Boomerang Festival Program here
Boomerang Festival 2013 Dates & Tickets
FRIDAY 4th OCTOBER – SUNDAY 6th OCTOBER 2013
Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron Bay (the home of Bluesfest)
Tickets On Sale Now At: www.boomerangfestival.com.au
Boomerang Festival 2013 Lineup
Gurrumul with the 24 piece Queensland Virtuoso Symphony Orchestra
Wantok SING SING performing WanSolwaraPipel feat Frank Yamma, Djakapurra, George Telek
Vika & Linda Bull (Tonga), Airileke, Albert David, Patriq Kas Futialo, Tieni Ruapene
Archie Roach with Lou Bennett, Emma Donovan & Deline Briscoe and a ten-piece ensemble feat. string quartet
Moana & The Tribe (NZ)
Busby Marou (QLD)
Casey Donovan (NSW)
Digging Roots (Canada)
Nga Tae (NZ)
Ray Beadle (NSW/NZ)
Jerome Kavanagh: TE HAA AIO (NZ)
Pacific Curls (NZ)
TsuuT’ina & Anishnaabe (Canada)
Gary Foley (VIC)
Slip On Stereo (QLD)
Bow and Arrow (NSW)
Getano Bann (QLD)
The Chooky Dancers (ELCHO ISLAND- NT)
Move it Mob Style (NSW)
Malu Kiai Mura Buia (TSI)
Dr Djiniyini Gondarra OAM (NT)
Jack Charles (VIC)
Melissa Lucashenko (QLD)
Romaine Morton (NSW)
Richard Frankland (VIC)
Sean Choolburra- 50 Shades of Black
Tammy Anderson’s – I don’t Wanna Play House
Real Injun, Butcher Paper, Texta, Blackboard and Chalk