Cheap Fakes on stage at the 2018 Caloundra Music Festival that sold 15,031 tickets over four days.
Cheap Fakes on stage at the 2018 Caloundra Music Festival that sold 15,031 tickets over four days. John McCutcheon

The music festival hitting Coast ratepayers hard

The Caloundra Music Festival has cost ratepayers an average $675,640 a year for the past three years according to a report to go before Sunshine Coast Council tomorrow.

The report seeks a further $250,000 a year for the the next three years to cover the festival's revenue shortfalls against operational costs on top of an annual management budget of $425,640.

The 2018 Caloundra Music Festival represented an effective $36.20 ratepayer subsidy to every ticket sold, if only 80 per cent of the council's Major Events Delivery Team budget was allocated to the event.

A Sunshine Coast Council spokesperson said given the scale of the event, the majority of council's Major Events Delivery Team's time was focused on it.

Put in other words the festival cost is $3.87  for every one of the region's 140,500 rateable properties.

The report identified revenue shortfalls against expenditure of $146,640 (2016), $359,148 (2017) and $203,542 (2018), all of which was absorbed by ratepayers.

The event sold only 15,031 tickets across the four days in 2018 with those attending on multiple days delivering an aggregate attendance of 33,386.


Wendy Cobbold and Claire Taylor at the Caloundra Music Festival.
Wendy Cobbold and Claire Taylor at the 2018 Caloundra Music Festival. John McCutcheon

Of the tickets sold, 7891 went to locals, a further 6027 to patrons from within Queensland and 1112 to interstate.

The losses came despite Tourism Events Queensland and local businesses chipping in $250,000 in cash and in-kind sponsorship.

The council spokesperson said more than 60 local musicians have met, been mentored by, performed and recorded with national and international touring artists as part of their engagement with Caloundra Music Festival.

The report said dates for 2020 and beyond would be discussed with the Caloundra business and tourism community.

At an ordinary meeting on June 20, 2013, the council resolved to fund the festival for $200,000 in 2014, then $180,000 in 2015 and $160,000 in 2016.

The council then went into confidential session at its January 25, 2017 meeting to "approve delivery plans" for 2017-19 financial years.

That meeting, the report has now revealed, gave the festival a $250,000 annual funding buffer between costs and revenue on top of the $425,640 management budget.

The report pointed out that meant the event was "under by $40,670 over the most recent 2016-2018 event cycle (out of $750,000)".

Continued funding, it said would to "further improve the festival's bottom line and council's return on investment".

The report gave further justification for continued ratepayer funding claiming "plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that many locals do not leave the region during this holiday period so that they can attend the Festival ('staycation')".

"An argument could be made that preventing leakage is as good as attracting new visitor expenditure. Keeping locals at home for a 'staycation' is certainly a net benefit in terms of the event's environmental footprint," it stated.

In a statement, a council spokesperson said the Caloundra Music Festival was directly connected to the Sunshine Coast Major Events Strategy 2018-2027 as well as the Sunshine Coast Arts Plan 2018-2038.