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Posted Friday, November 1, 2013
I spoke with Richard Lawson, Festival Organiser for ‘The biggest little music festival in Australia’ - and asked him some questions earlier to get the run down on this Year’s upcoming Gulgong Folk Festival. A great festival with a long history that has decided to head in a new direction – providing a free festival with support from the local community and a range of artists to celebrate the best of what makes a festival special.
Question 1. - Why you went down The Free Festival path.
This year the festival lost a lot of funding from our traditional sources. The industries in the area were having their own budgeting issues and a music festival like other sponsored events were at the bottom of the ladder as far as their priorities were concerned. Combined with the desire to draw more people and make the event inclusive and totally free, we had a double whammy effect as far as the budget went. I had played recently at the Culburra Beach Music Festival in 2012 and it was free. The diversity of attendees and age difference, combined with the utter loss of an exclusive demographic, who were there to see a specialized group of people practicing and enjoying their craft, was refreshing and inspiring and only seemed to amplify a giant celebration.
Question 2. - How to go about crowd funding and the options involved
I have been watching crowd funding over the last few years and knew it was a no brainer to raise funds for artists who had a good profile. I knew the festival had a good profile. We have worked hard on social media and are over 1000 likes now. I just wasn’t sure that festivals could do it. After looking into what festivals if any tried crowd funding I was quite surprised at the level of participation especially in the USA and the UK. There has been almost nil support from govt agencies in the USA for the arts and it is a very legitimate fund raising option there. There are 3 main crowd funding options in Australia; Pozible, Kickstarter and Indiegogo. The first 2 only give you the funds if you reach your desired target in the time frame. Indiegogo charges a bigger percentage but will give you all the funds raised even if target is not reached. You have to have sweeteners and options to give to all your “pledgers” as they are known. We had a staggered rate of donations and prizes available from $1 right up to $1000.
Question 4. - The response re the artists in supporting the festival assuming they are not being paid or being paid less?
The response has been overwhelming with artist such as the April Maze and Mustered Courage donating some of their money and other artists offering to lessen their fee and local artist donating their services. The really refreshing thing is a lot of production has been donated which takes a cost and logistical headache out of the equation. So having not only raised funds we have received production in kind
Question 5. - How the local community feels about it all and how they have helped with the fundraising ?
The local community has been fantastic. I have been stopped in the street and offered money on the spot by one woman in particular and others with businesses who love music and come forward and offered financial and in kind help.
Overall it has been a very instructive and great lesson in how to think outside the square. We have come up with some fantastic ideas for the festival just by having to get more imaginative with fund raising options…the “busking tin” which varied artists have been running on Friday mornings in Mudgee town have helped immensely and at the same time have done immeasurable good on the local publicity front and has made a bond of solidarity amongst the artists.
And Finally what to Expect?
The historic town of Gulgong will be alive with the newest music this January at the 27th annual Gulgong Folk Festival where more than 50 musicians will perform in pubs, at concert halls, informal sessions, workshops and street corners 28 and 29 December 2013.
Daniel Champagne, Big Erle, Alan Caswell, Melanie Horsnell, Caitlin Harnett, Southerly Change head up a jam packed line up.
5 venues ranging from the iconic grand old Opera House to cafes and market venues will host the music festivities.
The Gulgong Folk Festival also embraces and encourages buskers and blackboard sessions so bring your songs and guitars and join in the music making.
“This year there will also be a market precinct running throughout the Festival providing an alcohol free festive atmosphere, with a kids activities, busking, the local $10 town circus and it’s fun for the whole family. Cheap Camping and dorm style accommodation is available again this year at Redhill Environmental Centre in Gulgong…check the website accomodation page for more great places to stay."