ONE of the most popular festivals on the Katherine region’s events calendar has been cancelled.
In a shock revelation, the Jawoyn Association revealed the long-running Barunga Festival has buckled to pressures from lack of funding and will not go ahead this year.
Jawoyn CEO Preston Lee said the canning of the festival was an indication of a wider hit to the Territory’s festival sector.
He said the Barunga Festival’s budget had dropped over the years from between $250,000 and $300,000 down to $20,000.
“The main reason for the cancellation is due to lack of funding; state, federal and sponsorship,” Mr Lee said.
There was no way the organising committee could meet its payment obligations including staff wages and catering, he added.
“There comes a time when you’ve got to say alright, enough is enough, and draw the line.”
In October last year the NT Government announced $20,000 in funding.
Mr Preston said he was in talks with “a handful” of funding bodies and intended to “hand back” the full amount.
He also disputed the claim there were issues between the Jawoyn Association and other festival organisers.
The closure of the festival is a “disappointment and great loss” for both Mr Preston and the community.
He said the event had been running since his father was the Barunga town clerk in the late 1980s.
Mr Preston outlined the festival’s history, run by local council before being handed to a Barunga committee and then transferred to Jawoyn.
Jawoyn had run the festival for the last three years at a loss, but kept it running for the community, Mr Preston said.