Steph McCulloch and Georgia Neal at the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts festival.
Steph McCulloch and Georgia Neal at the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts festival. John McCutcheon

Weekend of festival fun worth millions

THE flow-on economic benefit of the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival at the weekend is estimated to be more than $3 million, but the value of creating "a cultural stamp" on the site of the future Sunshine Coast CBD is priceless.

Festival director James Birrell says his unique festival, which is now in its second year and would become a mainstay of the Coast's entertainment scene into the future, was part of a move to meld creative industries into the fabric of the new city centre at which it was held.

"The Sunshine Coast doesn't have an overwhelming amount of cultural infrastructure in terms of the arts," he said.

"So this an opportunity to have a...grassroots development of the arts in an open air gallery and music amphitheatre."

With 14 festivals were held on the Sunshine Coast at the weekend, local accommodation and small business owners were reaping the benefits.

Between 6-7,000 revellers were expected at the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival alone - that's up on the 5,000 attendees at last year's inaugural event.

A survey of last year's event determined an average amount each participant spent on accommodation and other goods and services, he said. This indicated a broader economic impact of about $3 million could be anticipated from this year.

Mr Birrell said he expected that like last year, most festival-goers would be from outside of the Sunshine Coast region (60%), demonstrating people were willing to travel for quality events.

"We get people traveling from all over Australia even NZ to come to this event. It's a unique festival in Australia and people travel for it," he said.

Cash bars, easy pay-wave systems, queues that move quickly and easily - these are all elements that make people return to well-run events like this, Mr Birrell said.

"It's just a very comfortable festival and I think that mixed with the line-up of music and the visual arts component makes for a very unique Australian festival," he said.

Mr Birrell said the reason he became involved in projects to rejuvenate Maroochydore was because he believed in the power of place-making to foster culture.

Sunshine Coast Council economic development and innovation portfolio spokesman Councillor Steve Robinson said it was important for the Sunshine Coast's image that "we're much more than just beaches".

"That's why it's critical that festivals of this nature are supported by locals as well," he said.


Maroochy event like no other

STAYING true to the Coast's laid-back style, attendees at the Maroochy Music and Visual Arts festival said the event was "chilled out" and "uniquely local" on Saturday at the Horton Park Golf Course.   

Whether they were there to support friends, or enjoying a child-free weekend, over 6,000 people turned out to see headliners Matt Corby and Peking Duk as well as much-loved local acts such as Chris Flaskas and Thom Stuart.   

Justin McIntyre and Adam Seaton said the event's location in the middle of Maroochydore was half the appeal.  

"It's definitely a drawcard to know that your local mates and all your friends are going to be here," said Adam.  

"The fact that it's around the corner is also obviously good."  

Latoya Dorron, a Bundaberg resident who was attending her first-ever festival, said she loved the event's "relaxed" vibe.   

"I've never really been drawn to other festivals, but this one seemed like it would be a bit more chilled out."   

Artist Gus Eagleton embodied the easy-going act, and said he was happy to just "have a play around" with his painting.  

"If the weather's sweet, we'll paint all day."  

As with all major events, the Maroochydore police had a presence at the festival, but Senior Constable Brad McCall said they weren't expecting any trouble on the day.  

"We expect to see a few drug and alcohol-affected people here today, so we've got to be prepared for that."  

"We'll just do our best to keep the public safe, that's what we're here to do."   

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