Festival faces $70,000 loss
By MAT OVENDENmovenden@gladstoneobserver.com.au
GLADSTONE City Council has been asked to fork out $60,000 to cover some of the losses suffered by this year's Gladstone Harbour Festival.
Gladstone Festivals and Events manager Judy Whicker yesterday said this year's event lost about $70,000, far exceeding what she had budgeted to lose with the event's expansion.
This was in contrast to the 2004 festival which produced a net profit of $36,000.
Mrs Whicker said with the addition of the Festhouse concept, the committee had expected to suffer a $30,000 loss in its first year.
Currently Gladstone City Council provides $15,000 in funding annually to the committee.
The remainder of the funds are gained through local fundraising and stalls selling hamburgers, fish and chips, milk and softdrinks at the festival.
However, Mrs Whicker said a series of storms throughout the event impacted on the stalls which were $15,000 down on last year's takings.
Despite the financial loss, she confirmed Gladstone Festivals and Events remained financially viable.
"We're covered for insurance until February next year, and we're debt-free,'' Mrs Whicker said.
She said the $60,000 was needed to cover wages and to ensure the committee remained in a financial position for future events.
And despite the outcome this year, Mrs Whicker was confident the Festhouse would become a regular feature of the harbour festival.
"We can't just bury the Festhouse because it's got great potential,'' she said.
"We've had more letters and more positive feedback this year than ever before. We've learned from these things and we've got plans already in place to improve.''
She said the committee needed to build on the success of Jazz 'n' Shiraz and the Beer Festival to ensure the Festhouse was viable next year.
She said the committee would also be able to raise more funds throughout the year with the Seafood Festival, Mayor's Ball and by providing services to other events in the city.
Gladstone City Mayor Peter Corones yesterday said he was aware of the festival's situation.
He said the matter would be referred to the council.