Artists in residence

Country music billeting plan strikes a chord

A UNIQUE plan to allow local country music fans to “adopt an artist” during the January festival is gaining steam.

The billeting concept, aimed at combating the rising cost of accommodation for musos, was raised at this week’s wash-up meeting for the 2014 festival.

Golden Guitar winner Luke O’Shea was one of a number of artists to give the idea a ringing endorsement.

“For Tamworth to really be calling itself the home of country music in Australia, you really have to attract artists from all over Australia,” he said.

“Everyone knows the festival doesn’t pay too well, but it’s essential to be exposed there. 

“With the added costs of a few thousand for accommodation, food and water, it does put it into a very significant monetary investment.”

Mr O’Shea said the only reason he had been able to continue playing the festival was by staying with a friend for the past 12 years.

Fellow artist Lyn Bowtell shared his enthusiasm for the concept.

“The problem I find with Tamworth, as a mid-level artist, is it’s an expensive exercise,” she said.

“I do it because it would break my heart to miss a year because I’ve been going since I was a child and it’s the opportunity to be there in front of all those people.”

She said Tamworth was a unique experience, but it came at a hefty price.

“If I was to look at the business side of things, I would probably say no, I probably wouldn’t go every year,” she said.

“The idea of billeting for me is brilliant; accommodation is one of the most expensive parts of the festival.”

Tamworth Regional Council business events manager Gavin Flanagan said a wide-ranging survey conducted last year indicated artists found it increasingly difficult to afford accommodation during the festival.

“The council has definitely been thinking about coming up with possible solutions for the problem and adopt-an-artist could work in a number of ways,” he said.

“It was all about saying, ‘we are thinking about it, it is something that is serious in our thinking’.

“The council can talk about the adopt-an-artist scheme until we’re blue in the face, but unless we have the community’s support, nothing will happen.”

He said it could be adopted by residents as well as moteliers, hoteliers and schools.

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