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The Folk Festival wants you to pay more still to save the Majestic

By 15 May 2012 79

my $100 for the majestic

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.

    We couldn’t make this stuff up if we tried.

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79 Responses to The Folk Festival wants you to pay more still to save the Majestic
#1
Brindabella11:52 am, 15 May 12

Live music at Easter time? No contest. http://www.bluesfest.com.au is where it’s at.

#2
nice_enough12:15 pm, 15 May 12

The Folk Festival is odd, why is it out gated up and Epic, why can’t it be a city wide event that takes place in the CBD and surrounds, something more like Austins South by South West or the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Events peppered throughout the city venues and temporary stages throughout the city.

The way it is locked up in EPIC now doesn’t really add any value to the city and people of Canberra as it doesn’t interact with the city at all, it may as well be held in Bourke for what it does to the Canberra economy or the “vibe” of the city.

#3
Endrey12:27 pm, 15 May 12

Kill it.

Who cares about the folk festival? Overpriced, over-attended, under-considered.

Just run the majestic for $30/head in Glebe Park in a warm month. Maybe adjunct to the multicultural festival so the food and drink’s taken care of.

#4
GardeningGirl1:29 pm, 15 May 12

nice_enough said :

The Folk Festival is odd, why is it out gated up and Epic, why can’t it be a city wide event that takes place in the CBD and surrounds, something more like Austins South by South West or the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. Events peppered throughout the city venues and temporary stages throughout the city.

The way it is locked up in EPIC now doesn’t really add any value to the city and people of Canberra as it doesn’t interact with the city at all, it may as well be held in Bourke for what it does to the Canberra economy or the “vibe” of the city.

+1
I keep wanting to go and check it out, but for that price in the charming surrounds of the dilapidated showground?

#5
Snarky1:44 pm, 15 May 12

Endrey said :

Kill it.

Who cares about the folk festival? Overpriced, over-attended, under-considered.

What garbage.

Overpriced $110 for music from 10:00am to midnight sounds good value to me. We saw 19 acts on the Saturday, and while there were maybe 2-3 I could have lived without the rest were great. $6.80 per great act is value for money in my eyes.

Over-attended Huh? It wasn’t packed like my daughter says GTM was on Sunday. And if there’s lots of people going then maybe (and I’m going out on a bit of a limb here ) its because the Festival is delivering what they want.

Under-considered. What is that supposed to even mean?

As to the OP’s comment “Seriously it hoovers money out of my wallet harder than any casino I’ve visited.” after you’ve paid what I’d consider a pretty reasonable price to get in, anything you spend after that is discretionary. Mrs Snarky and I always take our own lunch and buy a bit of dinner, maybe a few drinks. And we know we’ll be buying CDs as well, but that goes to the artists and I’m more than happy to do that.

We looked at Bluesfest, but the cost is substantially more, and taking time, accommodation and travel into account too it’s a pretty expensive alternative. And the NFF always offers a couple of name bands plus a swag of ones you’ve never heard of but are still amazingly talented performers.

Finally, the Majestic tent isn’t a permanent structure at EPIC, and presumably it costs to hire it, erect and service it and take it down. The gov’s done it up to now, but next year someone else will need to pay for it. Why wouldn’t you ask the people who benefit from it?. I’ll be happy to kick in a few dollars towards it.

#6
TheObserver1:47 pm, 15 May 12

Bit grumpy this morning Johnboy?

#7
DrKoresh1:49 pm, 15 May 12

The only reason I used to go was for the pharmacological cornucopia it used to offer, but it’s just not worth the entry fee, and they’ve made fence hopping much more difficult than it used to be in past years. It’s mindboggling to me that these supposed hippies can justify the price-gouging and savings account rape for what they bill as a charming, folksy and relaxed alternative community festival. It’s sickening.

#8
Ben_Dover3:19 pm, 15 May 12

DrKoresh said :

It’s mindboggling to me that these supposed hippies can justify the price-gouging and savings account rape for what they bill as a charming, folksy and relaxed alternative community festival.

Hippies + “folk” music + Greenie politics + multiculturalism + “alternative” acts + vegan food / animal rights stalls + “art” and “craft” + ACT govt involvement = perfect firestorm of right on P/C madness.

Thank god only silly hippies are enticed by such dire bilge, they deserve to be ripped off and taken advantage of.

No, I’m not a nice person.

#9
johnboy3:28 pm, 15 May 12

This in from a friend who knows a thing or two about festival management but would prefer not to put his name to it:

johnboy said :

nice spray on the folk festival!

i agree if they can’t make money of that ticket cost with almost no staffing cost and minimal act cost they must be stoned!

their production is two parts of nothing inside marquees with some staging sections.

someone is CLEANING UP off it!! my initial calcs show they would have cleared almost 3 mill on ticket sales if they do 10,000 weekend tickets, plus the bar which would be at least another 600k I would think, plus the stall holder fees they are smashing it.

So let’s do this again.

On the back of taxpayer subsidy, massive volunteer effort, and steep prices they are swimming in cash.

And yet they’re asking the community to pay in advance for a part of their festival they will in turn charge further admission for?

It’s nice work if you can get it I suppose.

#10
Snarky3:48 pm, 15 May 12

johnboy said :

So let’s do this again.

On the back of taxpayer subsidy, massive volunteer effort, and steep prices they are swimming in cash.

And yet they’re asking the community to pay in advance for a part of their festival they will in turn charge further admission for?

Any sources of actual numbers anywhere JB? While the Festival may well clear $3-4 million or more I’ll bet their outgoings all up are not cheap either, even if they don’t pay staff or performers (thinking of insurance, printing and advertising, security and other outsourced staff etc.) How much do they actually make? How much do you think they should be allowed to make before they incur a spray?

#11
TheObserver3:56 pm, 15 May 12

Struth Snarky, you are actually asking JB to do some research and get some facts to back up his long winded assertions. Health and Safety hint – when you start turning blue I’d suggest you stop holding your breath. I for one would love to see the basis for about 99% of what Honest Johnboy has posted.

#12
johnboy4:03 pm, 15 May 12

Snarky said :

Any sources of actual numbers anywhere JB? While the Festival may well clear $3-4 million or more I’ll bet their outgoings all up are not cheap either, even if they don’t pay staff or performers (thinking of insurance, printing and advertising, security and other outsourced staff etc.) How much do they actually make? How much do you think they should be allowed to make before they incur a spray?

I have no concern about any venture turning a quid. (Although I note the festival purports to be non-profit).

But in general I prefer a funding model where they put on a show and I choose if I want to pay for it.

Not I pay for them to put something on and then I pay to be allowed inside. For mine that’s a bit much.

#13
johnboy4:13 pm, 15 May 12

TheObserver said :

Struth Snarky, you are actually asking JB to do some research and get some facts to back up his long winded assertions. Health and Safety hint – when you start turning blue I’d suggest you stop holding your breath. I for one would love to see the basis for about 99% of what Honest Johnboy has posted.

Ooh you’re a special one aren’t you. Insinuation with no effort at all to actually address the argument.

Let’s see.

The folk festival this year got $225,000 in Events Assistance Program money from the ACT taxpayer.

Here’s all the links you might need to the transfer of funding from the Fringe Festival to the Folk Festival to run The Majestic.

Here are the folk festival ticket prices

Here the folk festival claims they get 50,000 people through the gates.

– Above is published in full their letter of demand that the community pay in advance for the right to be charged to see the show at the Majestic.

What more exactly would you like?

#14
TheObserver4:54 pm, 15 May 12

Allow me to deal with the first link – that shows how $225k was divvied up between a bunch of things – the folkie didnt get the lot as you seem to assert.

The funding of the Majestic you actually got right so that would be part of the 1%

Ticket prices – what is the point you are trying to make? Snarky addressed that in any event.

As for insinuation, allow me to bow, grovelling, to you Johnboy – as your post is a mix of insinuation, half truth and push poll dressed up as polemic and really is very long on assertion and woefully short on back up.

But it’s ironic really, a blogsite where the moderator is the troll.

I just wonder if you can source the background material on the fact that the event doesnt pay performers well or at all, and perhaps you could also provide your (factually based) insights on the local acts that have been ignored for years in the utterly damnable way insinuated by you.

You may also wish to reflect on whether your guidelines for posting are of equal applicability as on any measure you might need to moderate yourself- or is this ‘do as I say and not as I do”?

And as for being precious, I have a sh*t eating grin on my dial as I type – because you are back peddling like mad because you got nothin’.

#15
johnboy5:24 pm, 15 May 12

TheObserver said :

Allow me to deal with the first link – that shows how $225k was divvied up between a bunch of things – the folkie didnt get the lot as you seem to assert.

The funding of the Majestic you actually got right so that would be part of the 1%

Ticket prices – what is the point you are trying to make? Snarky addressed that in any event.

As for insinuation, allow me to bow, grovelling, to you Johnboy – as your post is a mix of insinuation, half truth and push poll dressed up as polemic and really is very long on assertion and woefully short on back up.

But it’s ironic really, a blogsite where the moderator is the troll.

I just wonder if you can source the background material on the fact that the event doesnt pay performers well or at all, and perhaps you could also provide your (factually based) insights on the local acts that have been ignored for years in the utterly damnable way insinuated by you.

You may also wish to reflect on whether your guidelines for posting are of equal applicability as on any measure you might need to moderate yourself- or is this ‘do as I say and not as I do”?

And as for being precious, I have a sh*t eating grin on my dial as I type – because you are back peddling like mad because you got nothin’.

All that and not one word actually addressing a single point made.

I had the conversations with folk festival organisers over many years where they said the local market had no interest in local music. (mistake pointed out by the wild popularity of the event)

I’ve talked to the musicians who play there about what they get paid. But let’s face it while vastly accomplished there’s rarely anyone booked who wouldn’t otherwise be playing at the turner bowlo.

And I’ve had the conversations over many years with the volunteers, so I know a thing or two there.

So I’m confident in my assertions. But I’d be happy to stand corrected should you have any actual information to bring to the discussion.

All we seem to get is abuse.

I was happy enough for the festival to continue on it’s way, albeit with personal reservations.

But this whole deal with the majestic stinks to high heaven (and the ACT Government is as to blame as anyone).

My apologies for sharing my opinion on the subject. But I don’t intend to stop because of you.

#16
Endrey5:40 pm, 15 May 12

So much anger. Just move the majestic elsewhere and everyone can have what they want.

#17
johnboy5:46 pm, 15 May 12

Endrey said :

So much anger. Just move the majestic elsewhere and everyone can have what they want.

Indeed

#18
I-filed5:58 pm, 15 May 12

Is the Folk Festival transparent about is sponsorship money? I think the US embassy coughed up a small fortune this year?

#19
fabforty6:36 pm, 15 May 12

How about the ACT Government provide less for the Summernats and more for the Folk Festival ?

#20
poetix7:44 pm, 15 May 12

I was in Canberra for once this Easter and thought I might go, for the first time, to check this out. The minimum payment on Saturday, though, which was the only day I could go, struck me as too expensive just to have a look (it was about $100). I reminded myself that I don’t really like folk music and gave it a miss (although possibly broadening my understanding of what that might be is why I wanted to go in the first place). They could have a pass for a couple of hours to be upgraded if the buyer likes what she sees. And before anyone criticises me for being cheap, I do support a lot of local arts events, but this struck me as just too much.

#21
Sandman8:27 pm, 15 May 12

fabforty said :

How about the ACT Government provide less for the Summernats and more for the Folk Festival ?

Summernats- thousands of interstate visitors that fill every hotel within 20km of epic, don’t care how much petrol they need to buy from our local servos, go out to dinner every night in our local restaurants, clear the fridges of the local bottleshops, provide all the inner north fast food joints with record breaking weeks, speed through our red light cameras and generally spend every cent they brought with them.
Input to local economy- huge.

Folk Festival – a couple of thousand interstate visitors who roll into town in their Subarus and old diesel vans running on old chip oil. They camp at the event (fees go to festival). They bring their home grown organic vegetables and homemade rye bread with them to make all their meals, and any mind altering substances they take we’re more than likely grown at home as well.
Input to local economy- negligible.

Let’s hope you aren’t a financial advisor forr the ACT government.
( and on the off and highly unlikely chance you are unaware of the actual figures, ACT government gives summernats $35,000 per year for business and marketing purposes, which they probably get back in fines no worries).

#22
Anna Key9:20 pm, 15 May 12

fabforty said :

How about the ACT Government provide less for the Summernats and more for the Folk Festival ?

Why?

#23
LegalNut10:03 pm, 15 May 12

Wow, johnboy, how much more wrong could you be about how the Folk Festival works.

Lets start at the top:

– It relies on vast armies of volunteers working for free (often in highly professional capacities).

Yes it does as does almost every event of this type. Woodford, Port Fairy, Cygnet, Illawara and every other folk festival works this way. They can’t afford not to.

– It charges like a wounded bull. Seriously it hoovers money out of my wallet harder than any casino I’ve visited.

This year, the most expensive ticket was $425 which got 4.5 days of entertainment from 9am to 2am and camping on site. I can think of very few events that offer so much programmed entertainment for such a low price.

– 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).

I see no problem with this. It is a not-for-profit cultural event and I couldn’t imagine it really having a marketing budget. That said the annual financial reports (http://www.folkfestival.org.au/info/management) show $105 000 in marketing costs in 2010-11.

– It pays artists very little to nothing.

The last annual report shows that performance fees amounted to $471 350 for the 2011 festival. That seems a little more than close to nothing.

– It gets tens of thousands of people through the gates to this profit making dream model.

Those same financial reports show a $224 000 loss in 2010-11 (and the rumour mill suggests possibly more in 2011-12) with operational costs over $1m, staff costs over $600k.

– And yet we’re constantly told it needs government handouts to make sure it keeps going.

With a loss of $224k and grants of just $75k it seems that further government funding would be appropriate. As I understand it, there are about 50 000 who attend the festival each year. This amounts to $1.50 in government and other funding per person. In contrast, the ACT government alone (without taking additional sponsorship into account) spent $8.50 on each attendee to Floriade.

The bottom line is that the National Folk Festival is not the high-profit, exploitative, rip off event that you suggest. Rather it is an event that costs a lot of money to put on, is actually quite well priced (cf the $60 per hour charged for the recent and popular Prince concert in Sydney) and does actually support local artists and the local economy.

#24
LSWCHP10:14 pm, 15 May 12

OK. I’m a conservative, atheist, left wing, libertarian gun nut with a buzz cut and a military background who now works in the defence industry. Ten years ago I hooked up with a tree-hugging, anti mining and anti war demonstrating, animal-rights advocating hippy lesbian (well, ex-lesbian) who is now my wife. Go figger.

Music was our common bond, although I play hardcore Chicago Blues and she plays noodly hippy stuff. So, shortly after we met she insisted that I accompany her to the folk festival. In the interest of developing the relationship (ie continuing to have sex with her after a long drought) I agreed, although I anticipated hours of agony watching Morris “Dancers” and listening to bush “Poets”.

As it turned out, it was bloody great and we’ve been to every one since. I’ve never once felt that I didn’t get fantastic value for my money.

I’ve always shared Snarky’s view, that a hundred bucks or so for 14 hours of continuous entertainment is actually pretty damned cheap. I know there’s lots of volunteers volunteers, but I’ve always assumed that the performers are reasonably paid. I don’t like the idea that people are getting ripped off, and someone is making unreasonable profits on the backs of volunteers and underpaid artists.

And I’m very concerned about this threat to The Majestic. I tried to go see a show there this year, and I abandoned the attempt because the queue was about 200m long, and there were lots of other acts on offer. If the festival organisers are considering killing what may be the most popular venue at the show then they are off their rockers.

It really would be nice to find out where the cash all goes.

#25
Muttsybignuts10:20 pm, 15 May 12

Who actually keeps the profit from the Folk Festival?

#26
Nightshade11:05 pm, 15 May 12

Muttsybignuts said :

Who actually keeps the profit from the Folk Festival?

The 2011 annual report LegalNut linked to appears to show around $12000 profit (looking at the cash flow section). I imagine it goes back into next year’s festival.

They received $2,256,735 in receipts from customers, and paid out $2,581,549 to suppliers and employees.

#27
Nightshade11:21 pm, 15 May 12

poetix said :

I was in Canberra for once this Easter and thought I might go, for the first time, to check this out. The minimum payment on Saturday, though, which was the only day I could go, struck me as too expensive just to have a look (it was about $100). …………. They could have a pass for a couple of hours to be upgraded if the buyer likes what she sees. And before anyone criticises me for being cheap, I do support a lot of local arts events, but this struck me as just too much.

You only show your wristband to enter the festival grounds. Once you’re in, you’re in. They would have no way to ensure that someone with a 2 hour pass who didn’t upgrade actually left. There are usually after-5 pm tickets that are cheaper than the full day ticket.

As for the price, compared with $70-90+ to see a performance at The Canberra Theatre, which might be only 2 hours long, I agree with others who view this as good value. It’s only not good value if you don’t like what’s on offer and don’t want to spend the day and evening there … in which case, don’t go.

#28
HenryBG8:07 am, 16 May 12

Muttsybignuts said :

Who actually keeps the profit from the Folk Festival?

I believe you will find it listed under “staff costs” on the balance sheet.

Interesting that “staff” rake in vastly more than the actual performers do, don’t you think?

poetix said :

…The minimum payment on Saturday, though, which was the only day I could go, struck me as too expensive just to have a look (it was about $100). …They could have a pass for a couple of hours to be upgraded if the buyer likes what she sees.

Lol! I was working as a volunteer at a music festival (outside of Canberra) not so long ago and a dopey cow came up to the gate and had the same suggestion.

Think about it.

When your two hours is up, how do the organisers know you’ve left or make sure you’ve left?

I was too busy laughing at this silly woman to even get any words out. I can’t believe people are this thick.

#29
johnboy8:32 am, 16 May 12

Look this wasn’t intended as a general kicking of the folk festival. If people like going then hooray.

(although as mentioned experienced festival organisers do raise an eyebrow at the cost structures generating the wafer thin operating results)

My objection is being asked to pay again for the majestic now, and yet again at the gates next easter.

The transaction should, in my opinion, be:

– Festival puts on event that I wish to attend.

– I buy ticket to attend.

Nice and simple and no hurt feelings.

Now the folkie is free to conduct their affairs however they choose. But I’m free to express my opinions about their public begging letters.

#30
poetix9:40 am, 16 May 12

HenryBG said :

poetix said :

…The minimum payment on Saturday, though, which was the only day I could go, struck me as too expensive just to have a look (it was about $100). …They could have a pass for a couple of hours to be upgraded if the buyer likes what she sees.

Lol! I was working as a volunteer at a music festival (outside of Canberra) not so long ago and a dopey cow came up to the gate and had the same suggestion.

Think about it.

When your two hours is up, how do the organisers know you’ve left or make sure you’ve left?

I was too busy laughing at this silly woman to even get any words out. I can’t believe people are this thick.

You really failed at charm school didn’t you, HenryBG? Or were you expelled? How about some sort of beeper welded into a compulsory nose ring for all the dopey cows? Moove along now, nothing to see.

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