AFTER the sound of silence dominated Peel Street when the COVID-19 crisis saw the country music festival canned, Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) has decided to go big in 2022.
It will be the 50th anniversary of the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF) and organiser Barry Harley wants to pull out all the stops including a life-sized statue of country music legend John Williamson.
"We are looking for opportunities to attract national media to put Tamworth back, fair and square, in the middle of the country music universe," he said.
"We have a Smoky Dawson statue which in a way reflects the start of the country music phenomenon, Slim Dusty and Joy McKean who represent the enduring quality of the festival and we thought John Williamson reflects 50 years in the industry.
We've pulled together a group of people who are prepared to fundraise.Barry Harley
"We've pulled together a group of people who are prepared to fundraise."
The bronze statue is expected to cost $99,000 and will be created by local artist Tanya Bartlett.
On Tuesday night, TRC councillors voted to underwrite the costs until the money can be raised by the committee bringing the sculpture to life.
A fundraising committee has approached Tamworth Regional Council (TRC) for its support in the hopes the life-sized statue of the Australian country music singer can be unveiled in time for January.
Mr Williamson has won almost 30 Golden Guitars since the start of his career in 1985.
Mayor Col Murray said this is a continuation of the committee that has raised funds for other statues in the CBD.
"It's a fairly aggressive time frame to actually deliver this statue," he said.
"The committee sought to have the council underwrite that cost so we could ensure those bills could be paid on time and it's certainly the intention of the committee to raise the funds."
The committee includes the wife of late icon Slim Dusty, Joy McKean, as well as TCMF manager Barry Harley, mayor Col Murray, Max Ellis, Cheryl Brown, Bob Kirchner, Bill Warburton, Lorraine Pfitzner, Kate Nugent and Rebecca Gracie.
Cr Helen Tickle said John Williamson is an acclaimed singer-songwriter and his support of Tamworth over the decades is well-recognised.
"He is recognised nationally and internationally ... and also will be a tourist attraction to Tamworth," she said.
The underwriting was supported unanimously.
An official fundraiser launch is expected in May, and the committee will open a GoFundMe so that the community can contribute.
The location of the statue is yet to be decided, the committee will discussion it with the council.
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