Blues Fest on song

AUSTRALIAN Blues Music Festival organiser Geoff Bell says he might have to pull a few strings next year to get a main sponsor on board – that’s if he’s still running the event.

An upbeat Mr Bell said the feedback from this year’s venues, musicians and audiences had been overwhelmingly positive.

“I’m proud to say that Goulburn once again put on a fantastic festival,” he said.

“The key was having the free shows and some unheralded, but super talented acts.

“That is one of the growing strengths of the festival, that people enjoy discovering these great artists.”

Mr Bell’s five-year contract as event organiser expires this year.

He said any decisions on its future won’t be made until after a debrief involving his company, the council and other stakeholders.

He said it was too early to formally commit to another stint as organiser and chief promoter but maintained it was essential the event secure a main sponsor.

“We have to sit down and talk it through, obviously, but the past five years has, in my opinion, seen the festival develop ... remembering of course that when we first came on board (2010) we were still feeling the effects of the Global Financial Crisis,” he said.

“But I think we’ve reached a stage where we really need to link up with a major sponsor to maximise the festival’s potential.”

“Our budget is very limited and the advertising spend is expensive if you want to spread the message on free to air and pay TV.”

This year’s advertising strategy focussed heavily on social media, the placement of posters - particularly in Sydney’s CBD and inner west – coverage in Virgin’s in-flight magazine and marketing through Canberra and Southern Highland media.

“We also advertised at cinemas here and at Macarthur Square (Campbelltown) which has proved effective,” Mr Bell said.

Dollars from a corporate sponsor could help subsidise crucial mainstream TV and newspaper advertising and cover costs such as programme production.

But ultimately, Mr Bell said the festival’s future is dependent on local business support.

“This is a whole-of-Goulburn event,” he said.

“The festival is a Goulburn icon, an institution.

“We’ve got some top operators as far as the venues are concerned but it would be great to see more businesses involved because the more people in town, the more people staying here overnight and eating at restaurants and cafes, the more they will benefit,” he said.

Shane Pacey from the Shane Pacey Trio was glowing in his praise of the festival, which he said showcased a wide variety of performers.

“I really hope the festival will continue it has a great appeal and brings plenty of like minded people to the town for a fun weekend,” he said.

Andy Daniels and the TheGuitarCases added: “The festival is an important vehicle for promoting live music and musicians particularly blues,” he said.

‘Harmonica’ Ron Ind, who has been to every Australian Blues Music Festival including the first couple out at the Goulburn Showground, said the event these days seemed to lack the punch it had when the council was running it.

“Don’t get me wrong, Geoff Bell does a great job and brings some very good performers here for the festival but he does not have the manpower and resources that the council was able to put into the festival,” Ron Ind said.

“I liked it better when Jenny Falconer was running it with Sarah and the others, they had an army of volunteers to help out and were better able to organise the little things as well as the performers.

“Things like programs in the shops and emcees at venues may only be small things but for a couple of people to try and do the whole lot is very difficult.”

“Geoff has done a great job of keeping the festival running and it certainly has a place on Goulburn’s calendar. I love coming here and playing at the Goulburn Club, catching up with friends and watching the new talent that the festival encourages.”

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