The agenda for tomorrow night's meeting shows Council has worn a nett loss of $243,572 from the Buskers Festival from 2008 to 2012.
The agenda for tomorrow night's meeting shows Council has worn a nett loss of $243,572 from the Buskers Festival from 2008 to 2012.

Council losing $50,000 per year on Buskers Festival

COUNCIL is being asked to consider how much bang the Coffs Harbour International Buskers and Comedy Festival generates for the bucks put into it.

At tomorrow's council meeting Cr Mark Sultana will ask for a cost-benefit analysis of the annual street theatre event.

In his questions on notice he is also asking for a list of the council's direct and indirect costs associated with the festival.

Figures show it has cost Council almost a quarter of a million dollars over the past five years.

Cr Sultana, who set up a mechanical bull at the 2012 festival but was not part of the Buskers amusement scene this year, said he had asked for the information because a number of people had expressed various concerns about the 2013 Festival, which ended on September 29.

He said those concerns included a reduction in spectator numbers at the recent event; many acts being the same as in previous years; buskers asking for notes rather than coins for the hat and shop owners' worries about losing significant amounts of money during road closures.

"A lot of money gets thrown around and a few people are questioning the validity of the festival; the way it is run; who gets paid and what they are paid," Cr Sultana said.

But Festival co-ordinator John Logan of JLE said Cr Sultana had a case of sour grapes because he was a party to an unsuccessful tender for amusement rides at the 2013 Festival.

Mr Logan said there were two aspects to the festival, cultural and visitation.

He said it provided eight days of almost free entertainment and unlike other major events like the World Rally Championship, which he supported, the Buskers Festival was a reliable annual event which was under local control.

He said while figures had not yet been collated, numbers at daytime events this year had been down and numbers at evening events up, possibly due to the hot weather.

Mr Logan defended the line-up of acts and the practise of performers asking for notes rather than coins, saying Coffs Harbour was competing with busking centres like Halifax, Edmonton and Edinburgh and had to offer buskers a good deal if they were to pass on a good report to others in the close-knit street performing world.

"Generally we bring back a few (performers) from previous years and a lot of new ones," he said

Council staff have said a cost benefit analysis would itself be costly- requiring funding of between $27,000 and $150,000.

Figures for the five festivals from 2008 to 2012 show they incurred a steadily-rising deficit from $35,000 in 2008 to $74,553 in 2012.

The Buskers Festival has a mix of community, business and local government funding.

The council has been part of the mix for more than 10 years, since John Logan Entertainment relaunched the event begun by the Rotary Club of Coffs Harbour in 1990.

Mr Logan said airfares alone accounted for more than $30,000 and PA systems for 21 different events almost $20,000, added to the cost of providing accommodation in a peak school holiday period.

"We are very lucky to have a generous sponsorship for accommodation from the Pier Hotel, but they can't accommodate everybody and we have to go further afield," he said.

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