Festival saved from extinction

By ALLAN McNEILallanm@gladstoneobserver.com.au

THE Gladstone Harbour Festival will go ahead next year. The decision was made yesterday by a relieved Gladstone Festival and Events general manager Judy Whicker.

Mrs Whicker said she was "100 per cent certain'' the festival would happen next year after Gladstone City Council voted to consider doubling its annual contribution to $30,000 at their next budget deliberations.

Speaking with The Observer yesterday, Mrs Whicker vowed that the event would go ahead and the committee would not "let the community down''.

The Gladstone community has pledged $45,000. The Observer revealed that the festival was in doubt after losing more than $70,000 at this year's event.

Mrs Whicker said the committee would now begin looking for sponsorship for next year's event.

Mrs Whicker said she would also call an emergency meeting with the rest of the committee to push ahead with the event. By Mrs Whicker's own admission, the festival struggled financially this year due to the introduction of the Festhouse.

However she said while there would be changes to next year's event the Festhouse was likely to stay.

"I don't think we can go back now, but we will have to do it on a smaller scale,'' she said.

Gladstone City Council had relatively little discussion on the issue when it voted in favour of increasing its annual contribution at yesterday's meeting.

However the funds from Council are not yet guaranteed, with the final decision to be made as part of the 2005-06 budget.

Originally a recommendation was put forward that Council merely consider the increase without any figure placed on the increase.

However Councillor Matt Burnett asked that a figure be put forward to clearly be considered at budget time. "I think we should allocate an amount that can then be consid- ered at budget,'' Cr Burnett said.

Cr Burnett added that he did not want the issue to now go to budget and for Council to do a backflip on the issue.

However Cr Gail Sellers said that this could still happen, indi- cating the funds were not secured until after the budget was handed down.

Councillor Chris Trevor also wanted it noted that he believed Calliope Shire Council should also help out, however Calliope has already made a decision not to give any assistance to the fes- tival.

Council also voted to have a representitive on the harbour fes- tival committee, a decision wel- comed by Mrs Whicker.

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