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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
#61
inynkeon7:46 pm, 16 May 12

Yes, it does take 10 people a year (or more) to organise a 5 day festival, and I think it’s fairly amazing that they do it with that few people. Also, an average salary of 60k p.a. is not what quite what I’d call limousine worthy.

Something that I think has been missed throughout this discussion is vibe of the festival. It’s not just “go for X hours see Y acts”, there’s a whole sense of community. I grew up with this festival: I’ve been a paid performer, I’ve volunteered. When I wasn’t doing either, I forked out the cash because I love it. I’ve seen the festival evolve over the >20 years I’ve been going.

The Majestic has been a welcome addition that has provided a unique and popular venue which is home to some amazing experiences: ones that would now feel out of place in another venue. I sincerely hope that it does get the recognition and support it deserves.

#62
Gungahlin Al9:54 pm, 16 May 12

Sigh…

Personally I think the Nasho is one of Canberra’s (and Gungahlin’s!) best kept secrets.

I’ve been for the last 3 years. Only one day this year but the full 4.5 day stint the previous years. You would be VERY hard pressed to find such value. $100++ for a 90 minute concert versus $245 for 4.5 whole days packed as solid as you can take? Zero comparison.

I love that I don’t know many of the acts – it is part of the adventure that is the Nasho just dropping in on venues and sampling what’s on offer. I’ve fallen in love with acts I’d never heard of before. The “folk” bit of folk music means “people” – ordinary people doing the music of their homes. Anyone who says “I don’t like folk music” has obviously never experienced it, because there is no one “folk music”. The main thing that is common is acoustic instruments. That’s about the end of it.

Who’s the idiot comparing the Canberra folk festival acts with a major British rock festival FFS? It’s a folk festival. In Australia. It’s like saying the World drag racing championships at Summernats are not good enough – just because they’re cars doesn’t mean they are the same thing. Just because they’re musicians doesn’t mean they are the same thing.

Regarding the Majestic, sorry Hadley but I’ve spent very little time in there. It’s out of the way, and just to small to fit many people in. Things I have tried to see have often been full. I had never gotten around to going to Fringe, so have no opinion on that.

But to blame the Nasho for the Fringe festival situation is silly. Blame should go where it belongs – John flippin Hargreaves. So he pisses off in October and everyone can pursue getting it back as a free-standing festival again right? Maybe (come to think of it) the funding ask is a way of saying they’d rather get rid of it? Dunno, but I think the folk festival has bigger problems than Fringe. This year was clearly a struggle for them. Reduced venues and acts, far less blackboard opportunities (a big hit for new acts trying out their skills), and somehow just lacking some of the vibrancy of the previous years. I think the talk of big profits is daft and ill-informed. And I think the return to the Canberra community goes way beyond straight economic numbers of hotel bookings. The Canberra music and dance community itself owes a heck of a lot to the festival.

I really do hope it comes back with a bang next year – with or without the Majestic.

#63
HenryBG10:33 pm, 16 May 12

LSWCHP said :

And organising a function that involves the safety and security and health and happiness of hundreds of performers and tens of thousands of punters involves much more than just “filling in forms”.

Lol! Guess who hasn’t seen the state of the Portaloos from about 3pm on Day2 onwards.

#64
Hadley12:02 am, 17 May 12

HenryBG said :

LSWCHP said :

And organising a function that involves the safety and security and health and happiness of hundreds of performers and tens of thousands of punters involves much more than just “filling in forms”.

Lol! Guess who hasn’t seen the state of the Portaloos from about 3pm on Day2 onwards.

I don’t know. There are no portaloos at the NFF.

#65
DrKoresh12:59 am, 17 May 12

pwnt. :D

#66
p12:03 pm, 17 May 12

Hadley said :

HenryBG said :

Lol! Guess who hasn’t seen the state of the Portaloos from about 3pm on Day2 onwards.

I don’t know. There are no portaloos at the NFF.

Guess that explains why HenryBG keeps pissing in the phonebooth then.

#67
Truthiness2:10 pm, 17 May 12

I love you hadley, and I loved the fringe, more than the folky even. the burlesque was the best event I ever saw in Canberra. the majestic was good too, but the only reason I even got to see it is because one of your naughty minions snuck me under the tent flap, the line outside was horrendous.

I used to run an underground railroad into the festival, I’ve snuck thousands of kids in over the years. many of whom are your target audience. as good as the folky is, most young people don’t have hundreds of dollars to fork out to primarily see your show and smoke drugs and hook up with each other.

the fringe should be brought back, the majestic should be government funded and the folky should be free for under 18s.

if a non camping day pass should be $50, they’d likely double their attendance, just look at valve’s sales increases from discounts.

#68
Hadley2:32 pm, 17 May 12

If people could not explain how they ran an underground railroad into the festival like some sort of revolutionary hero and then complain how high the ticket prices are that would be great!

Look — in a perfect world the fringe returns in all its ten day free tent of amazingness glory, The Majestic continues and the NFF drops ticket prices/volunteer hours so all and sundry can come in regardless of money/time.

We can sit around and bemoan what once was or we can work with what we currently have to keep it going. The Fringe tried to run a subscription program to keep it going after it lost government funding but it was no successful. I hope we can find a way to help keep The Majestic going that will not make people poop themselves in outrage. I hope we have more free arts festivals in Canberra to sit alongside current arts free arts festivals like You Are Here.

It takes a lot of work and a lot of passion and a lot of lobbying and unfortunately it also takes a lot of money.

#69
Ben_Dover4:41 pm, 17 May 12

Gungahlin Al said :

Sigh…

Personally I think the Nasho is one of Canberra’s (and Gungahlin’s!) best kept secrets.

I’ve been for the last 3 years. Only one day this year but the full 4.5 day stint the previous years. You would be VERY hard pressed to find such value. $100++ for a 90 minute concert versus $245 for 4.5 whole days packed as solid as you can take? Zero comparison.

I beg to differ.

Ben_Dover said :

Or if you want a moreequitable comparrion;

Cambridge Folk festival, tickets £120 ($193 Au) Three day ticket

Line up:

Clannad (Sat) Joan Armatrading (Sun) The Proclaimers (Sat)

John Prine (Fri) Loreena McKennitt (Sun) James Vincent McMorrow (Fri)

Nanci Griffith (Sat) June Tabor & Oysterband (Fri)

Roy Harper (Sat) Angelique Kidjo (Sun) Keb Mo Band (Sat)

Billy Bragg celebrates Woody Guthrie’s 100th Birthday (Thurs)

etc….

The National Folk festival doesn’t have ONE act of the quality or international renown of those named, let a lone three days worth plus hundreds of smaller acts. That is why it will always be a minor, publicly funded, dissapointment.

#70
TheObserver5:10 pm, 17 May 12

Hey – Ben_Dover. Can you find out a couple of things: On what basis is it suggested that the folkie received $225k? Following Johnboy’s link I noted that the $225k was the total arts funding which went to a bunch of things, not just the folkie. Care to check that out and correct the record.

Also, with the other events that you are noting, do you have any facts or figures regarding the level of corporate or other sponsorship that such events receive that enable them to pay for the big name acts – and perhaps compare to the sponsorship etc that the Folkie actually receives?

Or would that involve doing other than being just another cowboy blogger and doing a bit of yakka to support that which appears to this observer, being long on assertion and short on fact.

#71
Ben_Dover6:05 pm, 17 May 12

TheObserver said :

Hey – Ben_Dover. Can you find out a couple of things:

On what basis is it suggested that the folkie received $225k? Following Johnboy’s link I noted that the $225k was the total arts funding which went to a bunch of things, not just the folkie. Care to check that out and correct the record.

I certainly will, thank you for the heads up on that.

TheObserver said :

Also, with the other events that you are noting, do you have any facts or figures regarding the level of corporate or other sponsorship that such events receive that enable them to pay for the big name acts – and perhaps compare to the sponsorship etc that the Folkie actually receives?

But isn’t that cause and effect? If the folkie got sponsorship for big names woudln’t it be in a betetr position? Who is responsible for sponsorship/act booking? What is stopping them doing just that?

TheObserver said :

Or would that involve doing other than being just another cowboy blogger and doing a bit of yakka to support that which appears to this observer, being long on assertion and short on fact.

I am no a cowboy, and although I participate here, I woudl not cal it blogging. I have backed up my points with facts, you however have not.

#72
LSWCHP6:23 pm, 17 May 12

Hadley said :

HenryBG said :

LSWCHP said :

And organising a function that involves the safety and security and health and happiness of hundreds of performers and tens of thousands of punters involves much more than just “filling in forms”.

Lol! Guess who hasn’t seen the state of the Portaloos from about 3pm on Day2 onwards.

I don’t know. There are no portaloos at the NFF.

Thanks Hadley, you beat me to it. I’ve been going for 10 years and I don’t ever recall seeing portaloos. It could be that I’m having a senior moment, or it could be that Henry has no idea what he’s on about.

#73
LSWCHP6:31 pm, 17 May 12

Truthiness said :

I used to run an underground railroad into the festival, I’ve snuck thousands of kids in over the years. many of whom are your target audience. as good as the folky is, most young people don’t have hundreds of dollars to fork out to primarily see your show and smoke drugs and hook up with each other.

Don’t you think there’s something a little ironic in admitting to ripping massive amounts of money off a gig like the festival while calling yourself Truthiness?

I’ve simply done the right thing by paying the cash to get my kids into the festival over the years. It’s been a lot of money, but they love it and I’ve never regretted a single cent of it.

#74
Androyd9:18 pm, 17 May 12

I remember mates in Melbourne sending out a flyer to their mailing list saying hey, we need money to record our CD, so please send us $15 now, then once we’ve recorded it we’ll send it to you. It got them enough of a critical mass to go in and record, not sure if it covered full costs but it gave them the kickalong they needed. (And the CD and launch was pretty good too.) So maybe that’s a better approach for the Majestic’s fundraiser? Donors responding to the flyer above could be effectively buying their ticket in advance for next year’s show, and even get some preferential seating rather than lining up for hours. They might not cover all Majestic costs in advance but would show the NFF organisers that there’s a good core of audience and a signal of a likely bigger rollup on the day so it’s worth taking the punt. Seems a more likely way of attracting support, and avoids some of the double or triple dip that inspired JB’s initial musings. Worth a thought?

#75
TheObserver10:22 am, 18 May 12

Ben_Dover. No you haven’t – not yet. Go and check the facts on the $225k for a start and then correct the record. BTW a link back to a previous Riot Act thread does not constitute research.

Cause and effect – yes – but I can tell you straight, the ACT Govt does not appear to me to be slightly interested in supporting a viable and vibrant event on the ACT calendar but is more than happy, per ‘Enlighten’ to pee millions down the drain. Fact is those other events always have had the massive cash boosts. The Folky is largely self reliant. Surely self reliance or the best attempt at it ought receive more consideration for support.

And given that you choose to throw around assertions in the manner of someone shooting from the hip first and asking questions later – then ‘cowboy blogger’ seems fair comment to me. However, moving beyond that, go and get each individual negative assertion you’ve made, independantly fact check it and come back to us.

Likley the folky would love more corporate sponsorship – but with Canberrans such as yourself and the Riot Act owners so keen to diss the festival with nonesense, you are probably not doing the cause much good.

Portaloos – yes, the folky has had them – but most recently as part of the mobile shower and toilet facilities – they are generally on the back of huuuugggge trucks up near the Mallee for one.

#76
Codders11111:18 am, 18 May 12

Sandman said :

Some figures quoted so far.

50,000 attendees.
Minimum $100 for Saturday ticket only ( lots of people staying for the whole weekend)
Total received from customers (assuming tickets as well as festival merchandise?). $2.3 million

I know I don’t have the brilliant mind of Dr Sheldon Cooper but that doesn’t add up.

There’s nothing too suspicious about this, you just need to think about it. There are 2000 volunteers and 1000 musicians at the festival. Say they all go for all 5 days – that’s 15,000 ‘visitors’ who didn’t pay anything for their tickets. I think stallholders also get in for free, and count as ‘visitors’ but am not sure about that.

Additionally a decent proportion of the people who attend the folk festival buy multi-day tickets and end up paying significantly less than $100 per visit.

#77
Ben_Dover1:08 pm, 18 May 12

TheObserver said :

Ben_Dover. No you haven’t – not yet. Go and check the facts on the $225k for a start and then correct the record. BTW a link back to a previous Riot Act thread does not constitute research.

I did JB posted in error.

TheObserver said :

Cause and effect – yes – but I can tell you straight, the ACT Govt does not appear to me to be slightly interested in supporting a viable and vibrant event on the ACT calendar but is more than happy, per ‘Enlighten’ to pee millions down the drain. Fact is those other events always have had the massive cash boosts. The Folky is largely self reliant. Surely self reliance or the best attempt at it ought receive more consideration for support.

Irrelevant, the organisers of the Folk festival could and should try to find funding through sponsorship, in order to draw name acts in. It should not be a local govt matter or local govt sposorship.

TheObserver said :

And given that you choose to throw around assertions in the manner of someone shooting from the hip first and asking questions later – then ‘cowboy blogger’ seems fair comment to me. However, moving beyond that, go and get each individual negative assertion you’ve made, independantly fact check it and come back to us.

Your interpretation of my posting style is irrelevant and a distraction from the debate.

TheObserver said :

Likley the folky would love more corporate sponsorship – but with Canberrans such as yourself and the Riot Act owners so keen to diss the festival with nonesense, you are probably not doing the cause much good.

Claptrap, my views and those of the Riotct staff are irrelevant to sponsorship, and do not and will not affect that in any way..

#78
TheObserver2:28 pm, 18 May 12

Yawn factor has set in Ben_Dover. You clearly don’t get the Folk Festival, how it works, its pressures and all the rest of it. Hope life stays nice in your comfort zone.

Hey – given though that you are willing to do the research – why dont you independently research every single one of the assertions in the original post. See how many more inaccuracies you can find.

Extra points for conflations – like the appeal is a “Letter of Demand”. FFS Riot Act – you are not Andrew Bolt’s blog, but by gee you are making his look good…..

#79
Overheard4:23 pm, 18 May 12

I’ve deliberately stayed out of this one as I’ve had my own beefs and chicken vindaloos with the Nash (not Nasho as someone called it — that’s national service which was phased out before I was around) and I’ll leave them between them and me — apart from one pithy comment elsewhere here today.

I am absolutely not qualified to comment on the financial stuff — TheObserver has more of the runs on the board and having an understanding of those machinations and I would counsel anyone to check their facts VERY carefully by questioning her (or him) on that score.

But (and I’m NOT talking about the OP/moderator here), the amount of blatantly wrong statements and glaring misinformation about what the folk festival* is could fill volumes. All this crap about wholemeal bread/mung bean etc. is quite palpably written by people who have never crossed the lintel at EPIC. There may have been a cornucopia of substances in years gone by but it’s very well hidden away now if it’s there.

Why sound off and display your abject ignorance if you’ve never been there? “You weren’t there, man. You don’t know! You don’t know what it was like!!

Piss or get off the pot, but above all, don’t unzip if you’ve got nothing to…….. yeah, this analogy needs to be taken out and shot. But essentially, if you’ve only got one leg to stand on, if you try to kick someone up the date you’re going to fall on a) arse, or b) face.

Ta da! Got it back.

(* I’ve never warmed to the habit of calling a festival the ‘folkie’ or ‘folky’. A ‘folkie’ is a person in my book.)

That’s my two cents’ worth and I’ll not spend a penny more.

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