On Saurday 23rd May Blazing Swan was contacted by the media for a response on the event’s cancellation and refunds.
For transparency with our community, the full statement that was provided to their enquiry has been provided here.
Blazing Swan is not a typical “festival”. We build a temporary community from a blank canvas, which is focused on volunteers and a gifting culture. It involves 12 months of planning and the complexities of building all site infrastructure and a solid volunteer base each year.
This year due to Covid-19, 3 1/2 weeks before the event, Government restrictions on public gatherings forced our event to be cancelled. This also left us 1000 ticket sales short of our forecasted budget, and in the difficult position of not being able to provide full refunds and still stay solvent. Event cancellation insurance would normally cover us for situations like bushfires or flooding, but not in the case of a global pandemic.
In April 2020 after all crew and equipment returned from site, our financial situation was assessed to allow reporting to our members so they could discuss and vote on any refund options available to ticket holders.
To provide some detail on Blazing Swans expenses, our financial situation looks like this.
- Annual expenses for the year of 2019 – 2020 – including our Fremantle community-based warehouse, that is used for storage and site prep, workshops and events, admin and accounting and volunteer resources, totals 25% of ticket income.
- Event planning and site resources that were already spent at the time of cancellation includes; transport, tools, volunteer merchandise and food, art and theme camp grants to our community and support, and the effigy and temple builds, totals another 25% of ticket income.
- Another 25% has been reserved for Annual expenses for the year ahead 2020 – 2021.
- The remaining 25% percent of ticket income is either available to discount tickets for next year, or to secure the future of the association, given the uncertainty that we face during this pandemic and restrictions on public gatherings.
After consulting with the ACCC we have been given the following advice:
“Exceptional circumstances such as the Coronavirus can directly affect a business’ ability to supply services as planned. If an event is cancelled due to government restrictions, you are unlikely to be entitled to a refund under the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). However, we note that the ACL is not the only remedy options for consumers.
As outlined on our website, the ACCC considers that:
- If your event is cancelled, we expect that you will receive a refund or other remedy, such as a credit note or voucher, in most circumstances.
- As to which of these remedies is available, you may be entitled to a refund if the terms and conditions of your ticket allow for refunds. Importantly, if you had a right to a refund under these terms and conditions at the time you made your booking, businesses are not permitted to change the terms at a later time to deny you a refund.
- Depending on your circumstances, you may also have other rights under common law, contract or state legislation.
If the business’ cancellation policy does not address cancellations for circumstances beyond its control, it may be possible to negotiate an alternative remedy with the business.”
Please find our Ticket Terms and Conditions below for reference.
Since cancellation, the organising committee have been taking action to reduce our annual expenses and seek government financial assistance. Our current legal and financial position makes it impossible to offer full refunds to everyone who purchased tickets. A best case scenario would be a 20% refund or discount on a future event, however Blazing Swan membership did not vote for this option. Consistent with a Not-For-Profit Association, any funds remaining will always be returned to our community.
Our position is one of deep regret and we understand that people have been affected by this pandemic in many ways. We have received overwhelming support from the vast majority of our community for which we are eternally grateful. We also acknowledge some ticket holders need more information to fully understand our financial position. All official communication from Blazing Swan is available on our website, and we will continue to provide updates as the situation develops.