How Grafton can continue to ‘own’ its festival
THIS week’s public meeting about the future of the Jacaranda Festival not only revealed the dilemma it faced if it continued down the same financial path – it won’t be here in five years consultant Krista Hauritz predicted – but also restructuring that will ensure a tighter nine-day program and plans to implement new revenue-generating income streams.
Identity was also a strong topic, as Ms Hauritz pointed out that “Goodna has a Jacaranda Festival and there’s another in Western Australia,” she said. “But Grafton still owns it, and needs to continue to own the Jacraranda Festival”.
Ms Haurtiz said through strategic marketing, including everything from uniform posters to a smart phone-friendly website, festival navigation through a centrally located hub where you can purchase ticketing, field visitors’ inquiries, and enjoy a daily meet and greet with the royal party, was recommended.
She said having a queen and entourage was a fascinating aspect of the festival and visitors loved the concept. “But a lot of the time they are nowhere to be seen, and once the festival is over they disappear completely.”
She also acknowledged the reality that the festival was run by volunteers and a paid co-ordinator whose role goes well beyond the 20 hours she is employed to work.
“We want to avoid volunteer and staff burnout and the lack of lead time to the event can contribute to this.”
Ms Haurtiz said working with a three-year plan rather than year to year could help to reduce this. Also offering internships and outsourcing events to other community groups.
Another suggestion from committee member Jeff Smith was to create a purple army, a group of grassroots volunteers who could do everything from keeping venues tidy to welcoming visitors.
“What I don’t want to hear when asking about the festival is ‘how it used to be better’. You have a wonderful thing here. It just needs a little bit of enhancing and financial planning and it will prosper into the future,” Ms Hauritz said.
She pointed out how changing consumer trends had effected other once thriving events like Big Day Out and Livid, while mentioning those that get it right in the Tamworth Country Music Festival and the Colour Run events. “The popularity of jogging and running has doubled in the last five years and you have a Jacaranda Fun Run.”
The emphasis on locally produced food being served during the festival was also a consumer trend overlooked, according to Ms Hauritz, but could be rectified. “People are into superfoods and those paddock to plate events are very popular. Alcohol is also not a strong element any more, the emphasis is on family friendly events.”
She said Grafton should avoid trying to duplicating other festivals. “This festival is unique and that’s want you should be promoting and growing.”
Festival co-ordinator Donna Hunt said she was excited by the ideas Ms Hauritz has put forward and is was already working on the marketing side of things for the 2016 event which will be run across the new nine-day schedule.
President of the festival Trevor Green was also positive about the new direction which aims to lift community moral and business confidence.
“You won’t see a big boom this year but we will try our damn hardest..”