Artists, suppliers still not paid by Mbantua Festival


PHOTOS: Above – creditor Hannah Trindorfer (far left in the photo) and hairdresser Nicole Inkamala (foreground, left) at the “beauty dome” during the Mbantua festival. Below right – creditor Jacinta Price with band including Bill Chambers (at right in the photo and below).
Some artists and suppliers to the Mbantua Festival in October are still waiting for their money as it appears the organisers have spent in excess of government funding commitments and their own resources.
The Federal Government, through its Aboriginal Benefits Account (ABA), has paid $1.3m to the Arrulka Business Aboriginal Corporation in two grants for the festival. The NT Government has kicked in about $80,000 in cash and kind.
But Arrulka’s Neville Perkins says the organisation has now made a third application to the ABA. He says it is now before Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion for approval, but he has been given no assurance that it would be approved.
Mr Perkins says he has also asked NT Chief Minster Adam Giles for $100,000 but hasn’t had a reply.
One of the festival’s creditors is musician and performer Jacinta Price who says Arrulka is in breach of its contract with her.
She was contracted to perform on Saturday, October 12 for one hour, featuring a seven-piece band including well-known country musician Bill Chambers.
Ms Price was due to be paid $1000 “on execution of this letter of agreement” and $1000 “on performance”. She still has not received either payment.
Another creditor is Hannah Trindorfer who has an Aboriginal themed beauty business, specialising in nail-painting with Aboriginal motifs. She had a popular stall and display at the festival.
She says she handed in her invoice immediately after the festival, was promised payment the following day, but still hasn’t received any money.
“I am not impressed,” she says. Notwithstanding that she helped the organisers by providing a hairdresser, face painter and make-up artist after the initial candidates had pulled the pin, she still hasn’t been paid. She also had to pay two assistants out of her own pocket.
“I did them a favour at the last minute. The beauty dome where we operated from had most of the footprint over the weekend. Many people came in to get their hair, make up and nails done for free.”
Ms Trindorfer says she will take part in any further festival only on her own terms, given the stress she has been subjected to.
“I’m disappoint that there was no recognition and here I am, still waiting for payment,” she says.
The Alice Springs News Online has been contacted by several other creditors who spoke to us on the condition of not being named.
Festival director Krystal Perkins told Ms Price on December 9: “Just a note to let you know that with the grant funds received from the NTG, local Artists and Acts are being paid to finalise invoices from the Mbantua Festival. All Artists, and payments will be paid from this week onwards.”
Ms Perkins told the Alice Springs News Online this week: “Funding is imminent, and our Suppliers will be paid when the funds are received. The ‘authorised’ payments will be finalised in due course.”
Festival Chairman Mr Perkins told Ms Price on December 13: “We have been going through an unexpected long and delayed process of trying to secure some approved NT Government funding for the past 8 weeks.
“The good news is that we have been advised that this funding should be available to us today finally and we should then be able to make payment to you by electronic transfer online today.”
Ms Price has not received any payment.
A spokesman for Mr Giles made mention of NT Government payments and services additional to those made earlier.
The spokesman said: “Arrulka Business Aboriginal Corporation was paid $20,000 plus GST (Community Festivals grant NT Govt) on September 11, 2013 for the Mbantua Festival.
“Under the Tourism NT Marketing Sponsorship Program we provided $5,000 for photography and video documentation plus $5,000 for national public relations activity to Mbantua Festival.
“They have both been paid in full.  There was also a number of in-kind arrangements including:-
• free registration to exhibit at the NT Muster Roadshow as part of the NT’s “festivals” theming, valued at $1900;
• through its communication channels Territory Discoveries offered value-added travel packages to Alice Springs to coincide with the festival dates;
• in-kind support through the provision of two vehicles in the lead-up to and during the festival and produced signage;
• assistance with traffic management solutions and free bus transport to ticketed patrons traveling to and from the festival
• the Alice Springs Correctional Service supervised two prisoner work crews to assist in the preparation of the site at the Old Telegraph Station.
The spokesman said: “The estimated dollar value by the NT Government is approximately $80,000.
“Mbantua Festival’s principal sponsor is the Australian Government through the (ABA). Arrulka is an Aboriginal owned business that is managing and coordinating the festival.
“In addition to ABA funding, the Mbantua festival attracted sponsorship from all levels of government, commercial entities, philanthropists and local businesses.”
Mr Perkins provided the following statement late this afternoon:-
The statement from [ABA] refers to the two grant grants from the ABA approved by the ABA Advisory group and the former Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Macklin, prior to our Mbantua Festival, which were publicly announced by Ministers Macklin and [MHR Warren] Snowdon and then released prior to the Federal Election in September this year, and prior to our Mbantua Festival, which was held from 9 to 13 October.
The statement does not refer to our supported application prior to Mbantua Festival for a variation to our existing ABA Funding Agreement for an additional $350,000 to cover the final costs of Mbantua Festival, which has cost in excess of $2 million.
We had originally sought $2.3 million of Aboriginal mining royalty funds through the ABA, but so far $1.3 million or $1 million less than what was needed has been funded through ABA.
We are still waiting for new Minister Nigel Scullion to sign off on our ABA Funding Agreement variation for $350,000 and we hope that this will happen before Christmas, as our application was considered and supported just after Mbantua Festival in October this year and as we need to pay off the final accounts owing for the Festival since mid-October without any further delays.
I hope that you can obtain a satisfactory answer from Nigel, as we are still trying to make contact with him to find out if he has signed off on our ABA funding variation. Many thanks for following up this funding issue up with Nigel.


  1. I know a few people waiting on payment and I do feel for them but as a taxpayer I am completely AGAINST the NT Government or the Federal government committing even one cent to the poorly managed organisation that organised the Mbantua festival.
    Like any other business that can not pay its bills due process should be followed without wasting any more of my hard earned tax dollars. Also how is it that a government funded festival that also charged the audience way too much to get in the door not be able to pay its bills?
    Where did all the money go? I think this organisation needs to be fully investigated.

  2. I think the organizers of the Mbantua Festival should be held accountable for every $ that was ‘gifted’ to them.
    I totally agree with James.
    Why should Nigel Scullion be blamed for holding up any further payments? Where did the funds from the tickets sales go? The whole thing should be investigated / audited.

  3. The contract between my company and Mbantua Festival was with All the Perks and this is the company that should be held liable for payment of the funds. This remains outstanding with All The Perks! As at March 2014.


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