Tweed Daily News

Wintersun could be done by 2011

THE Wintersun Festival will remain in Coolangatta until 2010.

But frustrated organiser Barry McNamara has put the border business community on notice - start supporting this festival or it will be gone in 2011.

Following months of uncertainty about the future of the rock n' roll and nostalgia festival, Mr McNamara yesterday confirmed that the event was staying put for at least one more year.

But he said the decision to stay in Coolangatta was made with a “great deal of frustration” and listed a number of issues he believes are threatening the success of the event.

He claims that if the problems - including a lack of funding, increasing costs and tighter regulations - don't get sorted, the festival will be forced to relocate.

One venue being considered for the relocation is Mildura in Victoria, which is this year hosting its own mini-Wintersun.

Speaking to the Tweed Daily News yesterday, Mr McNamara said he wanted to go public with some of the issues faced by the organising committee so that people knew his threats to move the festival were legitimate.

“Basically we'd very much like to do the festival here forever, but we are frustrated at the different issues that keep coming up,” Mr McNamara said.

“So we wanted to put it out that these are the problems.

“The question now is: Does the town want us? Does the area want us?

“And if yes, how can we get over some of these problems? If no, then we've got a range of alternative venues interested in hosting the festival.”

Mr McNamara said he was aware some critics thought his threats of relocating the festival held no weight.

“I know people think we keep threatening to move the festival, but we've actually been talking about how not to move,” he said.

“It is a last resort because this is the best place to have it. But hopefully by taking it to Mildura this year it shows that we are seriously looking at viable alternatives.”

He said after six years the festival had lost financial support from Gold Coast Airport due to the global economic climate.

He also said businesses were using the recession as an excuse not to support Wintersun.

“There is this feeling that Wintersun has been here for so long, it will be here forever,” he said. “We're being taken for granted.”

He went on to say that a restructuring of Gold Coast City Council's promotion of the southern Gold Coast and a consolidation of support had “reduced our cash flow and created a number of long-term concerns for funding”.

But Gold Coast City Council says its funding of the festival has only increased, and that it was committed to keeping the event local.

“Council has not cut funding for the Wintersun Festival and has in fact increased funding in recent years,” a Council spokesman said yesterday. “Funding is now available through a number of Council sources and it is estimated that this year Wintersun has received more than $120,000 in cash and in-kind funding.”

Mr McNamara also said financial support from accommodation providers had “plummeted”.

Meanwhile, he also announced that the street parade would be back at this year's event and that it, and the car cruise, would for the first time be including Kirra in their paths.

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