Taste re­port blasts coun­cil

Sunday Tasmanian - - News - JIM ALOUAT

IT’S the vi­brant and wel­com­ing com­mu­nity spirit that keeps the Sands Fam­ily Cir­cus com­ing back to the Cygnet Folk Fes­ti­val.

Bar­ring a seven-year pe­riod when he was on the main­land, Mark Sands has had a long his­tory with the fes­ti­val dat­ing back about two decades.

“It’s a great Tas­ma­nian coun­try town in a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion,” he said.

“We get a great range of peo­ple com­ing here.”

Mr Sands and his seven chil­dren are pass­ing on their skills in a se­ries of work­shops at this year’s fes­ti­val, in­clud­ing two to­day.

“We want to in­spire peo­ple with our acts and get peo­ple in a fes­tive mood,” he said.

Artis­tic di­rec­tor for the fes­ti­val, Erin Collins, ex­pects about 6000 pa­trons to visit Cygnet dur­ing the week­end.

With 13 venues and 400 per­form­ers on site, there will be plenty to keep fam­i­lies en­ter­tained.

“The big na­tional and in­ter­na­tional acts will con­tinue per­form­ing to­day,” she said.

“The qual­ity of mu­si­cian­ship is as­ton­ish­ing as well as the sup­port they all give each other.”

But as the fes­ti­val grows in size, Ms Collins said it may need fi­nan­cial sup­port from the State Gov­ern­ment to sus­tain it into the fu­ture. HO­BART City Coun­cil’s lack of vi­sion, un­clear bud­get pa­ram­e­ters and poor plan­ning has hurt the rep­u­ta­tion of the Taste of Tas­ma­nia, a new re­port says.

A coun­cil re­port into the fu­ture of the fes­ti­val, which did not take into ac­count this year’s event, shows that to meet com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions the Taste must con­tinue with a bud­get of at least $1.6 mil­lion.

The re­port notes seven is­sues re­gard­ing the fes­ti­val:

— The coun­cil needs to com­mit to Taste for a pe­riod of time with a clear vi­sion for what it wants the fes­ti­val to be.

— His­tor­i­cally, the bud­get for the event has been set year to year usu­ally in July but some­times not un­til Septem­ber. This has led to a “cut and paste” ap­proach. — Coun­cil bud­gets are handed down in July giv­ing fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers less than six months to plan Taste.

— This year, the coun­cil del­e­gated all au­thor­ity re­gard­ing Taste fees and charges to the gen­eral man­ager which has re­moved much of the pol­i­tics from the event. — Of­ten the fes­ti­val is left with peo­ple with in­suf- fi­cient skill sets plac­ing pres­sure on staff and raises the ques­tion: is the coun­cil pro­vid­ing a safe work­place?

— The fes­ti­val has been his­tor­i­cally viewed as dis­ap­point­ing, tired and dull. — Coun­cil seeks spon­sor­ship from Au­gust to Oc­to­ber when most large cor­po­ra­tions have set their spon­sor­ship bud­gets. Due to neg­a­tive pub­lic per­cep­tion, spon­sors do not want to be as­so­ci­ated with Taste.

Ap­proaches to the State Gov­ern­ment have been made late in the year mak­ing mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion dif­fi­cult.

The coun­cil in­vested $1.6 mil­lion in the 2018-19 fes­ti­val and a sim­i­lar com­mit­ment for the next five years was ad­vised in the re­port.

The com­mu­nity, cul­ture and events com­mit­tee on Wed­nes­day in­stead opted to sur­vey Ho­bar­tians and ask them if they want to con­tinue fund­ing Taste.

Coun­cil­lor Bill Har­vey voted against the mo­tion.

“To go out and ask a hand­ful of peo­ple what they think of Taste and whether or not we should fund it is poor gov­er­nance,” he said.

“Let’s look at the 260,000 pa­trons who went through the gates be­cause I think that’s a ring­ing en­dorse­ment of this fes­ti­val.”

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