BUSKERS, price-gouging, Toyota FanZone and too many free concerts in Bicentennial Park were just a few of the issues covered at a community wash-up meeting on the 2013 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
Tamworth Regional mayor Col Murray said there was “robust discussion” at the meeting and was pleased the community turned out at the community centre on Thursday night to share their criticisms and positive comments on the last festival.
He assured the community they would genuinely be trying hard to improve on aspects that didn’t work well this year.
“We will be making improvements to make sure the festival is bigger and better in 2014,” he said.
He said they would put a new plan together using documents from Peer Group (who worked on a strategic plan in the past) and gather all the things they’d tried over the past five years that worked, and by mid-year they should “have a pretty clear roadmap into the future”.
Cr Murray said they would also start to plan for the 50th anniversary of the festival, which falls in 2023.
He said they would be looking at changing the location and layout of Toyota FanZone and the position of the itinerant traders as well as the level of activity in Kable Ave and Bicentennial Park.
Cr Murray said the council would pick out which elements were desirable with the buskers and the reason the scheduling of buskers was introduced was because young buskers weren’t being heard on Peel St and there were instances of intimidation through sound and physically.
“We needed to do something,” he said. “It won’t be the same as last year.”
They will start working on the new busking structure in the next few weeks and will be informing all buskers what’s happening next year.
YouTube registrations will remain.
Tamworth Regional Council business events manager Gavin Flanagan said the festival landscape had changed dramatically, with so many music festivals and the resurgence of the Hunter as a destination with CMC Rocks the Hunter in a week.
“We need to be sophisticated in the way we put strategic plans together focusing on what the customer thinks and who are our customers,” he said. “The country music industry is getting stronger and stronger and we want to be and remain the best festival.”
Cr Murray said price gouging was a major issue for the festival because for many it could be a deal breaker.
“People who want to pay for a service, do, and people will keep charging it if they keep paying it,” he said.
“If there’s a few empty rooms, things might change. We can’t touch everybody unless we centralise accommodation bookings, then we might be able to have parameters on pricing.”
He spoke of the way Hong Kong centralised the accommodation bookings there, through Hong Kong Tourism, with each member of the scheme having a sticker on their doors to identify them.
Mr Flanagan said they didn’t want Tamworth to get a bad name because of a minority of accommodation providers who price gouge during the festival.
One of the most positive parts of the festival, which was applauded by many residents at the wash-up meeting, was the $10 for 10 days on the buses, with possibly Manilla and Barraba added next year.
Mr Flanagan said another positive aspect of the community meeting was the number of people who turned up and were passionate about the festival and passionate about Tamworth.
He said the international artists who visited the festival also went well and had taken the Tamworth message back to Nashville.
Other parts of the festival council will address include the Tamworth Proud scheme, which council hopes to introduce to schools and get students involved.
Issues raised by residents at the wash-up meeting included:
* Other styles of music played
* Too many free concerts in Bicentennial Park taking patrons away from venues and paid shows
* Suggestion for Tamworth to have a Hollywood-style sign in the hills
* Local artists wanting funding assistance from council, or a reduction in hiring fees for venues
* Cavalcade too early at 9am
* Position of FanZone blocked access to itinerant traders in Fitzroy St
* Suggestion of a tent accommodation village to be set up for musicians and artists, to lower the cost of accommodation
* Artists sponsored by Volkswagen Amarok not allowed in the Toyota Country Music Cavalcade
* Festival HQ Stage too loud
* Authenticity of country music at the festival was questioned by bush balladeers
* Device developed that will safely cut power to buskers who are warned about noise levels, but continue to exceed them – a “busker meter”