The Folk Festival is a strange beast for a few reasons:
– It relies on vast armies of volunteers working for free (often in highly professional capacities).
– It charges like a wounded bull. Seriously it hoovers money out of my wallet harder than any casino I’ve visited.
– It pays the most cursory to negligible amounts in advertising while constantly pushing for free PR (a sore point to those of us in the media).
– It pays artists very little to nothing.
– It gets tens of thousands of people through the gates to this profit making dream model.
– And yet we’re constantly told it needs government handouts to make sure it keeps going.
Let us turn our thoughts now to The Majestic.
– Once upon a time the Multicultural Affairs bods in the ACT Government paid a few tens of thousands for a Fringe Festival to the Multicultural Festival.
– The Fringe was free to attend, the drinks were reasonably priced and it was pretty good entertainment.
– But it was run by the colourful local figure of Jorian Gardner (now doing talkback radio for 2CA)
– As far as I can tell Jorian, as is his way, annoyed the then Multicultural Affairs Minister John Hargreaves (there was huffing about burlesque being inappropriate but reasons can always be manufactured by motivated bureaucrats).
– So the Fringe’s funding was given to the Folk Festival to run a fringey event inside the Folk Festival.
– Now the punters had to pay hundreds of dollars or donate tens of hours to see the work of their public funding.
– This did mean local talent finally got a run, something the Folk Festival had disgustingly neglected over the years.
– This became known as “The Majestic” and it was wildly popular despite being in a tent shunted away from the main festival.
– Now the Government funding for The Majestic has come to an end.
Does the Folk Festival continue with an event that’s wildly popular with the punters?
Of course not! It’s popular! They can soak the rubes for more dollars.
And so we have the below begging letter asking you to cough up in advance so you can then pay a second fortune to get in and see something that used to, at bugger all public cost, be provided completely free in the middle of town.
I often wonder if I’m too cynical, and then I realise I’m nowhere near cynical enough.
I’ve got $100 I’ll pay to support The Majestic if it’s staged somewhere everyone can attend for free.