Looking forward to the 2014 Sunshine Festival? Hope not, because there is not going to be one.
I’ve been to the last two (it was called the Brimbank Festival in 2012) and enjoyed them both immensely. To me it felt like the one event during the year that drew in a representative sample of Sunshine (and Brimbank’s) community together in the one place.
While we have other good events during the year – Lunar New Year, Writers Festival, Food Festival etc I don’t think any of them get quite the cross section of age / culture / race / economic level etc that the Sunshine Festival
Of course, Brimbank City Council didn’t announce that the festival has been scrapped, and why would they open that can of worms? It was only when I rang to propose an event to be held in conjunction with the Festival that I was told that there would be no festival. There may still be an event (maybe musical?) during Cultural Diversity week but the festival as we have known it is gone.
I’ve had a look at the Brimbank City Council’s 2013-14 annual budget to see if there’s been a change in vision:
The Vision states “Brimbank will be the dynamic centre of Melbourne’s West. We will be a proud, diverse and connected community.”
I’m not sure what a dynamic centre is but the rest sounds good. So how about a change in strategy:
The Statement of Strategic Intent is “Develop Brimbank through enhancing and celebrating the many diverse identities, communities and cultures within Brimbank; creating high quality spaces and places; and providing learning and employment opportunities.”
Nope. In fact that first clause seems to describe exactly what the festival has been doing these past years.
However, look further into the budget allocations and Festivals get a brief mention as an activity that can contribute to Community Wellbeing but none are included in the Key Strategic Activities for 2013-14 (aside perhaps from whatever will make up the ’150 years of Keilor’ celebrations).
Also, when you look back at the latest Brimbank Council Annual Report (2011-12) it says the following about the Sunshine (Brimbank) Festival:
“….. the ever-popular Brimbank Festival in the heart of Sunshine.
These rich and diverse events help to celebrate all ages and cultures within
“…. continue to increase community connectedness and pride”
“Brimbank Festival 2012 was delivered in Hampshire Road and surrounds on 24 March 2012. Approximately 25,000 people attended throughout the day”
Now I get that Council only have a finite bucket of money. And in a lower socio-economic area it’s more difficult to get that money to stretch to meet all the needs of the community. And that no-one is going to die if we don’t have a big street party to celebrate Cultural Diversity week in March.
But as I see the festival as a fun, interesting and vibrant event; as the one event that brings us all together; as something that people from outside the municipality come here specifically for and as something that makes me proud to live in Sunshine, I’d just say that if there have to be cuts, do we need to cut the best event of the year?
We’ve had a change of CEO since the last festival. Maybe this event was something that Nick Foa championed but now isn’t supported at the top? We’ll probably never know.
Anyway, Brimbank rates are going up by 6.8% in 2013-14 and similar in the following years.
Update 3 Aug 2013:
Twitter user @CatMcDonald asked council why the festival had been cancelled and Council replied that “at this stage the festival and event program for 2013/2014 has not been finalised.”
I have also heard that the same was said to a local newspaper reporter inquiring about the cancellation.
I imagine this could mean a couple of things:
- Council will say they are having a festival but it will be a number of events, occurring in separate locations and spread out over Cultural Diversity week e.g. musical event one day, Fastest Pho in the West race one Saturday, food market another day. While that is all well and good, to me it wont provide the sense of community and atmosphere that one kick-ass day of festival has been doing.
- Council might reconsider it’s position.
If you care about the Sunshine (Brimbank) Festival, you might want to drop council a line and let them know……