Entertainment

Council questions Easterfest's reliance on public purse

 

Cr Nancy Sommerfield wants to know why can't Easterfest stand on its own two feet.
Cr Nancy Sommerfield wants to know why can't Easterfest stand on its own two feet. Kev Farmer

WEANING Easterfest off the public purse will be a gradual affair after an attempt to accelerate the process failed to gain traction in council.

Organisers will pay $9625 to use Queens Park next year despite a previous council decision to make Easterfest pay 50 per cent of the traditional rental fee.

Instead, organisers will pay only a quarter of the usual costs.

Cr Nancy Sommerfield led the call for the original discount scheme to be applied in an effort to encourage the Christian music festival to "stand on its own two feet".

Council last month cut its contribution to the event by $10,000 to $55,000.

Cr Sommerfield said that was not enough.

Despite more than 20,000 visitors attending the event last year, Easterfest was not as financially successful as expected.

"We had already made this decision," Cr Sommerfield said.

"It all comes back to organisations making themselves self-sufficient.

"They get subsidies from the State Government, we give them subsidies yet they continue to not make money.

"Something is wrong in the financial status of this organisation if it can't stand on its own two feet, when you consider the volume of people who come to the park."

Much of the financial distress has been attributed to the weather, with heavy rain becoming a regular fixture at the event.

Organisers paid $11,400 to repair damage to Queens Park as a result of last year's festival.

Being a family friendly event without alcohol sales has also made gaining revenue from camping vital.

Cr John Gouldson supported the 75% discount while acknowledging that council's contributions were steadily being reduced.

"I think we've reached a good compromise," he said.

"I don't want to lose that festival from the city."

The majority of councillors agreed, with only Crs Nancy Sommerfield, Bill Cahill and Anne Glasheen voting to stick to the original 50% discount plan.

Topics:  easterfest, toowoomba, toowoomba regional council



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