It would seem the festival business is becoming harder and harder in NSW and latest victim of the restrictions festivals are facing n the nanny state and the failed war on drugs is Mountain Sounds below is a press release from the organisers.

Dear Mountaineers

We are devastated to announce the cancellation of Mountain Sounds 2019. The event will not be going ahead at Mount Penang Parklands next week.

We, like many of you, have seen the festival climate continue to diminish in Australia. NSW in particular is in dire straits. This is yet another example of the government’s war on festivals.

Safety has always been of the utmost importance to us, and it was for this reason that we agreed to downsize our festival site, cancelling over 20 acts, to ensure we met newly imposed safety, licensing and security costs, in order to maintain the wellbeing of our patrons and still put on the show.

A mere 7 days out from the event, further conditions and financial obligations were imposed on the festival, which were impossible to meet.

In 2018, Mountain Sounds ran smoothly, with an attendance of 16,000 people over two days, 11 user pay police and no major drug-related incidents. In 2019, despite our continued proactive harm minimisation measures (and having less attendees than the year before), we were told we would have to pay an additional upfront amount of approximately $200,000 for 45 user pay police on a 24 hour cycle. This came one week out from the festival and blindsided us as we were quoted for 11 user pay police on the 18th of January.

We have always considered our relationship with the local police a positive one. We’ve always valued their input and cooperated wherever we were required. Thanks to our comprehensive planning, Mountain Sounds has never had any serious drug-related incidents. There were 49 drug detections out of the 16,000 attendees over the two days of operation last year. That’s 0.30%. This is another reason we are left shell-shocked that this could happen.

As we’ve witnessed and empathised with other festivals who have recently faced similar outcomes, we continued to work tirelessly in an attempt to survive. Unfortunately, we too have been put in an impossible situation as it was unrealistic for us to pull this money together, particularly given the time frame.

Our submissions were consistent with last year’s operation, yet this year authorities seemed adamant to penalise us on technicalities and clerical errors. It was strongly indicated to us that we were not going to be granted the necessary approvals required for the 2019 event to proceed next weekend. The combination of excessive costs, additional licensing conditions and the enforcement of a stricter timeline left us no option but to cancel the event.

Our friends in the music industry will understand on a personal level how soul-destroying this is. For music lovers around the country, we know this will deeply resonate with you too. This impacts each and every one of you. NSW residents, please keep this at the forefront of your mind as the next election nears in 6 weeks’ time.

The Liberal party’s war on festivals in NSW is real and it’s robbing you of your freedom and culture. Who would’ve known that lock-out laws were just the beginning of the death of live entertainment in NSW. This has now spread to larger-scale and multi-day regional events and it’s only getting worse.

When will our government learn that fear-mongering, bullying and oppressing the youth has never and will never work. It is truly shocking to see time and time again how out of touch they are with the arts community.

Mountain Sounds is first and foremost about celebrating music, art and culture on the Central Coast. To share in these experiences is our right as a community. We poured all of our time, passion and resources into this festival for an entire year – and to have to cancel against our will is crushing. Supporting local bands, artists and businesses has always been at the core of the Mountain Sounds ethos and we need everyone to know that we did everything in our power to avoid this outcome.

We can’t begin to express our sadness in having to cancel the event, particularly this close to it. We were so excited to see all our hard-work come to fruition and to share the experience with our community, who we value more than anything and for whom we put this event on for.

To all of our patrons who will be extremely inconvenienced by this news, we wish to express our sincerest apologies. The future for Mountain Sounds is unclear at this point in time but we will find a way to continue our passion and commitment in bringing music and arts to the coast. We are eternally grateful for the support of our staff, crew, volunteers, suppliers, councils and emergency services.

And of course, our Mountaineers who have supported us throughout the years. Thank you for always being such an amazing crowd and bringing so much positivity to the mountain. We love our festival family.

We will be reaching out to everyone who purchased tickets to this event through our official ticketing partners next week to offer further information and advise next steps.

We may have lost the Mountain, but they can’t stop the Sounds.

Love, team MSF x

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