I am a music lover; a seven-time veteran of the Falls Festival at Marion Bay; and a three-time veteran of MS Fest. But I absolutely do not want to see our taxpayer dollars put into these events.
When Simon and Naomi Daly announced the new Marion Bay Falls Festival 10 years ago, Tasmanian music lovers were ecstatic. After years of failed Gone South festivals, we were excited to see these entrepreneurs come here and prove that Tasmania could successfully hold major music events.
Today, at around $200 each, ticket prices are still reasonable when you consider that almost the exact same two-day product at Falls Lorne costs around $300. Clearly patrons of the event agree that the event represents value for money as we again saw the event sell out in 2011.
The Falls Festival is an outstanding event not only for patrons, but for those entrepreneurs who took the initial risk to bring it to Marion Bay. They have set up a successful event that should now be able to stand on its own.
Charles Touber’s piece in The Mercury (January 5 HERE: Plea Falls on deaf ears) attempts to make a case as to why Tasmanian taxpayers should subsidise the Falls Festival and the event he recently took over, MS Fest. He argues that if organisations and events like the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, AFL Tasmania and V8 Supercars receive support then so should he.
But Falls and MS Fest are different to those events. Not because they’re music festivals, but because they have proven to be successful on their own. That’s why they absolutely should not receive taxpayer funding.
The festival that Mr Touber has just taken over, MS Fest, has existed with little or no government support since its inception, and it’s done so whilst delivering profits to a very worthy charity.
Mr Touber is now suggesting that every Tasmanian taxpayer should contribute to MS Fest – even though it has proven to be perfectly capable of being run on its own.
It is a fundamentally inequitable, economically inefficient concept that should not be entertained by the State Government.
Mr Touber has a long history of promoting the wrong music product in Tasmania. Who could forget those Gone South festivals? Always perfectly timed to coincide with university exams and moved up and down the Midland Highway with no real home.
The final act was his media campaign attempting to guilt Tasmanian music fans into buying tickets to a Gone South featuring the wrong bands, at the wrong time, in the wrong location, with poor facilities and – in the end – competing with a far better product in The Falls Festival.
It may just be time for Mr Touber to recognise that he needs to lift his game as a music promoter, not blame Tasmanians for not liking his events or put his hand out to the government.
On the complete opposite side of music promotion, Simon and Naomi Daly have proven to be godsends for Tasmanian music lovers. Their festival ended the bad old days of Gone South simply by being a far better product and much more in tune to what Tasmanians wanted.
Mr Daly recently told The Age that despite increased national competition, quality music festivals will survive in the current mainland market.
‘‘The festivals that understand themselves will survive,” Mr Daly said.
‘‘Those that have a feel and know their direction are on the right track.’‘
That describes exactly what the Daly’s have done in Tasmania. They understand their product and their market and have created a hugely popular, iconic event for our state.
But one needs to ask, given Mr Daly has been publicly advocating that quality, well-managed festivals will survive in Victoria, why does he then need to put his hand out for taxpayer support in Tasmania?
Unfortunately, it has been the willingness of the Tasmanian Government to dip into taxpayers’ pockets to support events in the past that has left some event holders with the expectation of support.
Mr Daly’s desire to keep prices low is praiseworthy, and in keeping with his excellent performance running the festival. But it really is a false economy if he wants taxpayers to fill the gap.
Mr Daly told The Mercury that the Marion Bay event made a $50 000 profit this year and requested that the festival be given Tasmanian taxpayer assistance of $350 000 in 2012-13.
“This is a great opportunity for the Tasmanian Government not only to ensure the longevity of the festival, but to work with us to ensure that ticket prices (remain low).” Mr Daly said.
But remain low for whom? Those people who attend the festival, have a great time and pay $100 less than their counterparts attending the same thing in Victoria?
There can be no justification for Tasmanian taxpayers paying to maintain an artificially lower price for an event like this. Especially when the event is selling out every year and only a small ticket price correction would be needed to make the event more profitable (I calculate around $25).
Any events budget maintained by the Tasmanian Government should focus on financially marginal events that attract tourists to our state and occur during the slower winter months. That is when Tasmanian businesses need a boost.
Because of its financial circumstances, Tasmania has a limited events budget. This money needs to be spent intelligently to support events which maximise financial returns to our economy. Propping up events which would exist irrespective of State Government support would only represent a wasted opportunity to support other, more marginal events.