A NUMBER of initiatives will be introduced into next year’s Country Music Festival as a result of three Tamworth Regional Council staffers heading to Nashville earlier this year.
Destination Tamworth’s business events manager, Gavin Flanagan, business and commercial enterprises co-ordinator Kate Baker and business events officer Catherine Burton visited Nashville in June to gain insight into what “Music City USA” has been able to achieve over the years and identify how Tamworth could benefit from its experience.
One of the initiatives being introduced will result in a number of American musicians with an international profile coming to Tamworth for the first time.
Another initiative will be a dedicated “fan zone”, which will provide fans with the chance to meet their favourite artists.
During their 10-day visit, the Destination Tamworth team met with civic leaders, music industry representatives and artists. Tamworth mayor Col Murray said the Nashville trip was “highly productive”.
“From a business sense, the trip was a logical step in council’s efforts to keep the festival progressive and fresh for fans,” he said.
“A recent workshop for councillors explained the insights and ideas the Destination Tamworth team have been able to bring back – there’s no doubt it was highly productive.”
Cr Murray said the Destination Tamworth staff said they were extremely impressed by what they saw and the pride that was felt throughout the Nashville community.
“Their detailed report was well received by councillors and made it clear they returned with a range of ideas that can only add to the success of our own festival,” he said.
Ms Baker said a stronger connection between artists and fans was one of the Nashville festival’s strengths that Destination Tamworth was looking to replicate at the 2013 Tamworth Country Music Festival.
“With this in mind, in 2013 the festival will introduce a dedicated ‘fan zone’, where country music enthusiasts will have the chance to get up close and personal with their favourite country artists,” she said.
“This concept is very innovative, and while the fan zone will be in existence for the duration of the festival, it will also continue to be the place where fans can engage 365 days a year.”
Ms Baker said the fan zone was a highly saleable property, with corporate entities showing enormous interest in the new venture.
“In fact, the fan zone is so lucrative that this one concept alone will pay for the entire Nashville trip many times over,” she said.
The inclusion of international artists will be an ongoing feature of the festival from next year.
“We believe that it is very important that Tamworth and the Tamworth Country Music Festival is recognised for its contribution to music, both nationally and internationally,” Ms Baker said.
“Destination Tamworth will work closely with selected international artists, emphasising and leveraging existing connections with Australian artists.”
Ms Baker said any international artists invited to be a part of the 2013 Tamworth Country Music Festival would be here to engage with the Australian country music industry.
“They will be in Tamworth for the majority of the festival and give Australian fans and artists the opportunity to experience Nashville right here in Tamworth,” she said.
She said another benefit of the trip to Nashville was the opportunity to lay the foundation for ongoing relationship-building.
“Tamworth also needs to be represented in Nashville. Last week a series of Australian artist events surrounding the Americana Music Festival and Conference was held in Nashville,” she said.
“The Bluebird Cafe hosted Tamworth Presents A Taste of Australia during the Americana Music Festival. It featured Karl Broadie, Lachlan Bryan, John Flanagan, Damian Howard, Jordie Lane, Kelly Menhennett, Jen Mize, Melody Pool, Sue Ray, Andrew Redford, Lianna Rose, Ruby Boots, Sons of Summer, Catherine Traicos and Felicity Urquhart.
“Kasey Chambers and Shane Nicholson and Caitlin Harnett also performed showcases during the week.”
Ms Baker said such international events would help Tamworth strengthen its place as Australia’s Country Music Capital and as a genuine visitor destination.
“The future for the city and the festival has never looked brighter,” she said.