When you think of festivals in Australia, does your mind turn to snacks on sticks and craft beers, wine tasting and live-entertainment? Maybe the simple joy of running into neighbours and making new friends? These are all things we enjoy as festival-goers.
But what should festivals in Australia mean to us as business owners, community organisers and council members?
IN ONE WORD… CONNECTIVITY!
The basic human desire for community has been in a state of decline, due in large part to superficial “connection” through social media and the resulting fear of the unfamiliar. Now, thanks to a pendulum swing of awareness, people are looking for a more meaningful definition of CONNECTION. They’re working to build a sense of community they crave, and spending more money on local experiences in order to achieve that.
When communities are connected, there’s a meeting of like-minded patrons, customers and audiences. Brands are connected to buyers. Residents and others with interests in the community see inherent value, and are mutually invested in its livelihood, as a team.
How can you promote that level of connectivity in the community where your interest lies?
A LOUD AND RESOUNDING ANSWER IS FESTIVALS.
The unique, hands-on ways in which they highlight history, artists, brands, new ideas and creativity have the power to change the backdrops of our communities.
Our a sense of community has not changed, and not only are Australians among the most active social media users in the world (Vivid Social), their demand for festivals is on the rise.
They attend an average of 2-3 festivals per year, with the majority planning on attending the same number, or more, next year.
60% of those festival goers cite “sense of community” as a primary driver (Eventbrite).
WHY FESTIVALS ARE IMPORTANT TO YOUR COMMUNITY
Most communities with booming economies are known for something. In many cases festivals are used to commemorate and expand on those hallmarks.
- Sydney is known for its iconic architecture and scenery, which are celebrated with the likes of Vivid Sydney Festival;
- Melbourne is a ‘cultural Mecca’, be it fashion, football, theatre, comedy to motor and horse racing, all of which is honoured annually at the MCG, Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne Fashion Week, Melbourne Cup and countless others;
- Perth‘s beaches are rejoiced upon with Sculpture by the Sea;
- Adelaide’s food is crowned with the likes of Tasting Australia, Barossa Vintage Festival and more.
Even in a smaller communities, where history may not play as large a role in its micro-culture, a curated festival can help city planners to establish tradition that will attract commerce.
The UneARTh Festival in Whyalla this year, for instance, sought to enhance the area’s reputation for warm weather, beaches, nature and family fun with performances that reflected on the identity of Whyalla, with lots of opportunities for attendees to explore the idea of “WHO?”
Organisers prefaced the festival with a call to uneARTh facts surrounding the community, the people and its history.
TRADITION IS AT THE ROOT OF THE FESTIVAL MODEL; HOWEVER THAT’S JUST THE BEGINNING OF THE BENEFITS
- There’s business exposure, which creates brand awareness. When delivered in a memorable festival experience, this can result not only in cash-and-carry purchases, but in brand recognition, subsequent storefront location traffic, brand loyalty, and ultimately, Increased Profits. Those profits can then lead to a booming micro-economy, which provides for community improvements. In addition, word-of-mouth will extend beyond the festival grounds, meaning greater year-round sales potential for business of all sizes.
- Festivals are catalysts for Community Pride. Residents advertise, tourists visit, word spreads…and in time, a rural area becomes a destination in development. An image is formed. New jobs are created. Those who simply once “lived there” now assume ownership. Crime and vandalism decline, because residents are proud to call their town “home.”
- The Entertainment provided at festivals comes with countless benefits, as well. Not only are entertainers keen to participate because they will receive exposure within the communities where they work, festivals can provide introductions for opportunities outside the community.
- Performances build camaraderie and nurture interests in the arts amongst young people – who will go on to enrich communities with their passion and talents.
- Even if a festival’s admission is free of charge, the Economic Benefits can be staggering. Virtually every activity, attraction and facility can be sponsored by an organisation interested in building the local community with contributions.
The City of Joondalup saw a population explosion in the 1980s. It continues to grow with efforts like Joondalup Festival, which this year featured an invitation to Explore the Galaxy and experience the Museum of the Moon (quite fitting for a city whose name comes from the Aboriginal word meaning “the place of whiteness and glistening”)
ARE YOU CONSIDERING BRINGING THE BENEFITS OF A FESTIVAL TO YOUR COMMUNITY?
Bamboozled’s own Stirling Fringe celebrates community, connectivity and the arts. The ten-day festival attracts thousands of locals from this otherwise “sleepy-village” reshaping the image of the town towards one that nurtures creativity and supports exciting outdoor events.
Visit our website to learn about the many ways our team can Deliver The WOW for all types of festivals.
Louise & the Team