Reviews & Interviews

Our Festival Scene & A Festival Called Panama

In recent years, Australia has experienced a noticeable change in the music scene. Mainstream music festivals are being increasingly associated with violence, drugs and assault, resulting in a new breed of boutique music festivals. A shifting demographic with a desire for a more personable, niche experience has seen smaller, more intimate events emerge all over the country while larger festivals disintegrate and often result in cuts in artists, dates and locations. Punters are seeking alternatives to traditionally organised events and the festival scene is adapting to accommodate the ever-evolving market.

45minutes out of Launceston, concealed amongst the foliage of the forest, lay a picturesque property… home of echidnas, platypus and A Festival Called PANAMA. Launched in 2014, A Festival Called PANAMA has introduced Australia to an event alike no other. People from all over the nation travel to the PANAMA forest over Tasmania’s Labour Day weekend, equipped with their tents and torches, to experience an array of arts and contribute to the diverse culture.

Where cider is brewed on site, the showers are wood-stove heated and the live music ranges from West African desert blues to Melbourne garage to folk, PANAMA has something for everyone (conveniently, as it’s also a family-friendly festival).

Despite only being two years old, PANAMA sold out months in advance with a capped attendance of 1000 people. In response to PANAMA’s popularity and the declining appeal of traditional festivals, Artistic Director, Timothy Carroll, explained to us that “Big festivals are scary, they’re a bit risky to be a part of. Smaller events are warmer, you feel closer and more connected in smaller models… it’s an enhanced experience.”

Tim credits integrity as a huge asset in regards to PANAMA’s success. Strong moral principles are maintained throughout the event and shared amongst the coordinators, patrons and artists. “The natural environment is very present and it’s a big reason why people come. We make it a priority in all our communication to alert patrons of our zero waste policy. We ask people to take any waste they brought with them, back home. We’re getting people to recognise how much rubbish they brought to the site, to consciously engage. Our ticket purchasers are aware that we’re sharing the space so there’s a lot of general respect.”

1000 patrons, 2 nights, and after each individual had vacated the site, the remaining rubbish was collected in a single hand.

panema rubbish

Image sourced from Facebook

“We care so much about the experience people have when they come here, we’re really passionate about the place and I think when people visit they have a similar experience.”

Being a musician himself, Tim Carroll expressed the importance of not only respecting the environment and ticket-holders, but also those listed on the curated line-up. “We look after one another, that’s the key to what we do.”

Reviews of PANAMA report that after completing a set, the artists mingle with their audience, sharing ciders and a dance.

The audience at small, boutique music festivals are active, accountable participants and not merely anonymous figures in a sea of 20 000 others. It’s at events like PANAMA where strangers become good friends. It’s the resulting respect that is inherently appealing to those present at smaller-scale music festivals.

In regards to the live music scene in Australia- if the smaller and more intimate events, such as PANAMA, are anything to go by, we are really excited for the future of our festivals.

Keep your eyes peeled for next years A Festival Called PANAMA and we bid you luck in snagging one of the 1000 tickets!

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