Community News

Should our community festival remain FREE?

I walked away from the soulful Father’s Day live music at The Mexican in Yamba last Sunday pondering the value of keeping Surfing The Coldstream Festival a FREE event. After all, there are compelling reasons for putting a fence around the festival and charging $80 entry, not least the peace of mind that comes with having a reliable revenue stream for the event. Well, so long as it doesn’t rain! Promoters are essentially speculators: will the weather be good and will people buy tickets to see the bands on the line up? Why take such a risk, when a free festival will run rain or shine? And why make great art, performance and cultural content exclusively available to a handful of ticket holders? No, that’s not what motivates us – the volunteers at Live Prawn Productions – to spend a whole year planning this thing. It’s seeing a local singer like Grace Hickey performing for a restaurant crowd on a Sunday afternoon, or hearing the first public performance by teenage musicians at our busking competition heat last Saturday and knowing that these young talents need a bigger platform to spread their wings. This isn’t about commercial interests, it’s about enriching the community. Plus a FREE festival in Yamba is quite unlike anything on offer in neighbouring towns: it’s our unique selling point and it’s what attracts visitors to the Clarence Valley during the shoulder season between school holidays. Our major sponsors understand the value in our strategy of keeping the festival free, for it to involve and reflect our local community and to nurture talent. Thank you Clarence Valley Council, Yamba Chamber of Commerce and North Coast TAFE. Phil Nicholas, Festival Director