RedFest organisers have lauded Redland City Council’s decision to grant them $20,000 for this year’s event but criticised moves to force them to drop gate fees.
At today’s general council meeting, the council knocked back RedFest’s request for $35,000 in sponsorship for this year’s event settling on the figure of $20,000.
It also rejected a plea by Division 1 councillor Wendy Boglary to ask organisers to think about cutting ticket prices to the event.
This year, an adult ticket will cost $12, a child’s ticket $5 and $8 for concession card holders.
Disco king Leo Sayer and pop band Mental as Anything will headline this year’s three-day event, which starts on Friday, September 7, and is expected to attract a crowd of 35,000.
Festival organiser Bruce Smith said he would love to make the $300,000 event free but could only do so if it were “breaking even” before the event started.
“This is a not-for profit event run by 300 volunteers with costs of up to $300,000 and until we get all the corporate sponsorship necessary to break even without gate fees, there will be tickets,” he said.
“Redland City Council does not run the event. It gives us $20,000 a year to help with a small part of the costs and, in return, gets all the kudos that goes with being a sponsor – so much so that people believe the council runs it.
“Carols by Candlelight gets $80,000 from the council for a four-hour event. We are putting on a three-day event to cater for the whole family,” Mr Smith said.
Cr Boglary said because council sponsored the event, it should have some say in “making it more affordable” for families and suggested cutting back on the number of bands to keep costs down.
Deputy mayor Alan Beard, a former chairman of the festival, applauded attempts at reducing gate fees but said organisers, and the festival’s 300 volunteers, already set fees as low as possible.
“This is a not-for-profit organisation and nobody makes any money out of this,” Cr Beard said.
“They will keep the gate fees at the lowest possible price, while meeting their financial commitments. It costs about $300,000 to stage this event.
“It’s a complex formula they use to calculate the gate fees and our $20,000 contribution represents less than $1 per person through the gate if they didn’t have our sponsorship,” he said.
Mayor Karen Williams, once on the RedFest committee, said the festival faced “more and more costs” including paying for fencing and needed well-known acts to attract people from outside the city.
Cr Beard (Div 8), a former musician and entertainer, agreed with the mayor and said local people had already seen local acts and wanted well-known bands.