By KIERAN FINNANE
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.”