Frances Folk Gathering seeks more funding

Naracoorte Lucindale Council wants more information before approving an extra funding allocation for the next Frances Folk Gathering.

Folk gathering organisers asked for a special allocation for next year’s 20th anniversary event in February – seeking $15,000 instead of the $5000 council usually gives.

The $15,000 amount was included in the council budget, approved last month, but when they considered the item at the July council meeting, councillors weren’t sure they wanted to give that much.

Director of corporate services Fiona Stringer reported to the meeting that the organisers wanted to spend more on entertainment for the anniversary event, possibly paying $1500 per artist for some top level performers. The recent closure of Blue Lake Hire in Naracoorte also meant it might cost more to hire materials and equipment this year.

Cr Malcolm McLean commented that $10,000 seemed a large additional amount and he wondered if $5000 would be a satisfactory compromise.

“I do think it’s a bit excessive,” Cr Craig McGuire agreed.

Ms Stringer said the event was put on for free every year, drew a lot of people to the area and benefited a lot of local groups who were able to raise funds by contributing to the festival.

“In one way by supporting the event, we’re supporting multiple groups,” she said.

Asked if the organisers had a clear set of figures to better inform councillors about the financial situation of the festival, Ms Stringer said she could seek more information.

CEO Trevor Smart commented that the extra allocation had been included in the council’s 2018-19 budget, “so now you’re just supporting a decision made in the budget process.

“It wasn’t that long ago that you supported it, that’s the only comment I’d make.”

Cr Ken Schultz said allocating such a large sum would set a dangerous precedent, with other bodies such as the Naracoorte Lions “battling” to cover extra costs such as $10,000 for marquees for the Taste the Limestone Coast Festival.

Councillors voted in favour of asking a representative from the gathering to make a presentation to the council on the request.