How much of Parrtjima's $2m goes out of town?


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Well, the government isn’t saying.
It took two weeks to get limited information about the cost of the festival to the public purse.
A question about this year’s festival total cost remains unanswered but has previously been reported as $2m.
$2m is the amount allocated for next year’s festival and the one after in 2019, according to a spokesperson for the Minister for Tourism and Culture.

There was no answer to questions about how much went directly to Central Australian Aboriginal artists and the Festival Reference Group, nor to how much went to AGB Events, the interstate company responsible for the light show. Contractual arrangements with AGB extend up to and include 2019.


These payments are considered “commercial in confidence”.


A media release from the government’s Northern Territory Major Events, announcing the 2017 program, quoted General Manager Andrew Hopper on the festival “providing meaningful artistic opportunities to Central Australian artists and paving the way for local growth in capacity, jobs and training”.


Mr Hopper did not characterise the kind of opportunity the festival offers to AGB Events, although he has previously told Alice Springs News Online that about half of the $2m would go interstate.


Financial information would be one measure of  just how much of an opportunity Parrtjima is for the local versus interstate creative industry.


Alice Springs News Online also asked how visitation was calculated. A recent media release by the Department of Tourism and Culture reported that almost 14,000 visitors attended the un-ticketed free event. This was down from nearly 16,000 last year but one night of this year’s 10-night festival was cancelled due to an electrical storm.


The spokesperson replied: “Visitation is calculated based on registrations to attend and then qualified by monitoring attendance at pedestrian entry points, people in vehicles arriving onsite and bus patronage throughout the sessions for the duration of the event.”







  1. It’s interesting to compare this story with the report “Ratepayer, do you want your money back?” Quite a contrast.
    The excuse of commercial in confidence that is so often trotted out by politicians and bureaucrats when playing with cards so close to their chests over the expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars is wearing awfully thin.
    It’s just not a good look for a government and administration that promised to be more accountable to the public in that landslide election result last year.
    I hope the NT Government remains mindful of this commitment.

  2. $2,000,000 a year for a Sydney company to provide opportunities to a very small handful of local artists selected by who? How are these artists chosen?
    Meanwhile local arts organisations and artists struggle to secure very tightly contested arts grants, where all the money stays in the Territory. The festival I’m guessing pays peanuts to locals (I hear a translator was shocked at the pathetic amount she received for her work) and of course relies on volunteers. How much volunteer time is put in by the Sydney mob with the money? The curator I’m guessing receives a good amount, but fair enough we don’t have anyone here who knows anything about Indigenous culture so we need to import someone. No one capable of curating anything here either of course….
    Wouldn’t it be great if the Territory Government could support NT artists and curators etc with 2 million a year instead of some mob of outsiders. Imagine if a home grown festival was supported with that many bucks, we could have an even more vibrant arts sector that engaged with the schools, tradies, local businesses and community all year building skills, infrastructure, friendships and community through the whole year.


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