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Media Release: Greens call for doubling of funding for community festivals and events

Today, the Greens will announce a multimillion-dollar policy commitment for the Brisbane City Council election campaign, calling for a doubling of council’s annual funding for festivals, events and cultural organisations.

Council currently allocates just $4.1 million per year to its Festivals and Events program, and the Greens want that doubled to $8.2 million.

The Festivals and Events budget allocation includes signature events like Brisbane Festival, Queensland Music Festival and Brisbane Writers Festival, as well 70 suburban community festivals, 42 multicultural festivals, and fifteen major cultural organisations (such as Metro Arts and the Queensland Youth Orchestra).

The Greens say the bulk of the new funding should go towards smaller festivals and local arts projects over major events and bigger institutions.

Arts administrator, DJ and Greens candidate for Central Ward, Trina Massey, says the flow-on impacts from investing in the arts are widespread, but that in recent years council hasn’t invested as much as it could have in supporting local community festivals.

“The arts are an essential part of a healthy society. Without music, theatre, film-making, storytelling, poetry, circus, dance and visual art, life just isn’t quite the same,” Trina says.

“There’s so much great stuff going on in Brisbane, but council doesn’t put in enough financial support, which often means event organisers and performers are overworked and underpaid.”

Gabba Ward Councillor Jonathan Sri says there’s plenty of room in the council’s $3 billion annual budget to increase festival funding. “Every year, council spends hundreds of millions of dollars on unnecessary road-widening projects. For roughly a 1% decrease in the roads budget, we could increase funding for festivals and arts organisations by 100%.”

“Thousands of residents enjoy our suburban community festivals and multicultural festivals, but a lot of them run on the smell of an oily rag and a huge amount of volunteer labour. Doubling this budget would mean at least 50 additional community festivals receive council funding, as well as funding increases for existing festivals and organisations.”

“Unfortunately for a council of its size, BCC puts far too little funding towards the arts.”

“Long-term, I’d like our city to overtake Melbourne and become a major regional hub for the visual and performing arts,” Councillor Sri says.




It’s time to double Brisbane City Council funding for festivals, events and cultural organisations.

Access to the arts is an essential part of a good life and a healthy society. Without music, theatre, film-making, storytelling, poetry, dance and visual art, life just isn’t quite the same. These artforms add intrinsic value to the cultural identity of a city and its people, contributing positively to everyone’s quality of life.

Cultural and Arts Festivals play an important role in shaping our city’s culture, identity and sense of community, enabling human expression and social bonding, generating revenue for communities and creating pathways for community participation in the arts. For First Nations people, they present opportunities for engagement with the broader community, connecting them with living stories and landscapes of First Nations culture and history. Multicultural festivals are particularly important for maintaining cultural identity and building relationships across ethnic communities.

Festivals and cultural organisations help us find common ground, share important new ideas, increase connectedness and enable artistic exploration. They’re also a lot of fun.

The Greens believe in a future where Brisbane’s cultural events and institutions are nurtured and supported to thrive. With this in mind, the Greens are calling for a doubling of council funding for Brisbane Cultural Organisations and Festivals from $4.1 Million to $8.2 million per year.

We’re calling for a doubling of funding to the entire Festivals and Events program (5.1.1 of the annual budget), including Signature City Festivals, Suburban Community Festivals, Multicultural Festivals and Cultural Organisations.



In a world of rapidly changing technologies, consumer tastes, social trends and government sector budget cuts, local festivals and organisations that help make Brisbane so special are facing growing insecurity and anxiety about their future. When governments measure the value of individual cultural events based purely on their short-term financial impacts, this ignores their more significant long-term positive contributions to society. The council’s current undervaluing of the arts leaves stakeholders in the sector underfunded, underutilised and unsupported.


Current Budget

Currently, dozens of suburban community festivals, from the Acacia Ridge Party in the Park to the Kurilpa Derby in West End, only receive a combined total of $797 000 in BCC funding each year.

Council funding for multicultural festivals such as Paniyiri, Diwali and Africa Day is only $573 000 per year.

Fifteen of the city’s leading cultural organisations - such as Laboite Theatre, Metro Arts and Cluster Arts - receive total annual funding from council of only $386 000.

Meanwhile, the city’s signature festivals - Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival and the biennial Queensland Music Festival - only receive $2.4 million in annual funding.

(The full list of multicultural and community festivals that currently receive recurrent funding in council’s annual budget is available at the bottom of this document)


Policy impact

The Greens believe that the majority of new funding should go towards smaller community festivals and arts projects.

Doubling the Festivals and Events budget would mean more performers and events organisers (of both major festivals and local community festivals) are paid properly for their work.

Increased funding would mean that the dedicated volunteers who make our suburban and multicultural festivals happen don’t have to work quite so hard. It would also mean that more local festivals would be eligible for recurrent funding. New events - particularly those organised by emerging ethnic community groups - would get more funding and support from council.

Signature festivals like Brisbane Festival, Brisbane Writers Festival and Queensland Music Festival, could include more free-entry shows featuring local artists, increasing access for lower-income residents and visitors. It would mean more shows and events in suburban locations outside the inner-city.

More funding would also ensure better promotion of existing events, meaning more people get to hear about all the great stuff that’s already happening in our city. The security of recurrent annual funding in the council budget would allow event organisers to plan ahead, think ambitiously and invest in longer-term plans for their event or organisation.

Cultural and Arts festivals help us to promote cultural identity, connect communities, and view the world through different lenses. They can increase engagement, broaden understanding across social and cultural divides and reimagine the design and use of public spaces.


Economic Opportunity

Even small investments in festivals and events can deliver significant returns to the economy. Arts and cultural events are closely connected to other parts of the economy including the food and beverage industry, hotels, transportation and tourism. Research from a 2015 study by the University of Tasmania shows every dollar spent on live music returns three dollars of benefit to the broader community. This more comprehensive community benefit includes job creation across related sectors. Jobs within the Cultural and Arts sector are recognised as highly skilled and resistant to automation. Investment increases job growth in the industry and the retention of specialised works within the local community.


Where would the money from?

The current $4.2 million funding allocation for festivals and cultural organisations represents a very small component of council’s total annual budget (approximately $3 billion). Compared to other council services and operations, festivals and events are grossly under-funded. For example, a single suburban intersection upgrade can cost upwards of $10 million.

Each year, BCC spends hundreds of millions of dollars widening roads and building non-essential ‘infrastructure.’ Council’s ‘Infrastructure for Brisbane’ budget varies each year, but is in the realm of $400 million per year, most of which is spent on road-widening.

For a 1% decrease in the roads budget, we could increase funding for festivals and cultural organisations by 100% to $8.2 million per year. We envisage that a 1% reduction would mean less money is wasted each year on non-essential road-widening projects.

Community festivals that currently receive recurrent annual funding from BCC

Multicultural Festivals:

  1. •         Africa Day Festival
  2. •         All Nations Festival
  3. •         Belong Short Film Festival
  4. •         Brisbane Chinese Cultural Festival
  5. •         Brisbane Chinese Festival
  6. •         Brisbane Fiesta Latina
  7. •         Brisbane French Festival
  8. •         Brisbane Lunar New Year Multicultural Festival
  9. •         Brisbane Serbian Festival
  10. •         Brisbane Thai Festival
  11. •         Buddha Birth Day Festival
  12. •         Carole Park Harmony Day
  13. •         Chanukah in the City
  14. •         Children's Moon Festival
  15. •         Diwali Indian Festival of Lights
  16. •         Eid Down Under
  17. •         Eritrean Community Multicultural Festival
  18. •         Festitalia
  19. •         Festival of Slavic Culture (biennial)
  20. •         Filipino Barrio Fiesta Brisbane
  21. •         India Day Fair
  22. •         Indian Bazaar
  23. •         International Tartan Day
  24. •         Korean Festival Day
  25. •         MOSAIC
  26. •         Mother's Day Multi Culture Dumpling Festival
  27. •         Multicultural Taste of the World Festival
  28. •         Paniyiri
  29. •         Parkinson Multicultural and Dragon Boat Festival
  30. •         Persian New Year (Nowruz)
  31. •         Scandinavian Festival
  32. •         Senior Multicultural Dinner
  33. •         South Pacific Islander Christmas Celebrations
  34. •         St Patrick’s Day Parade
  35. •         Sunnybank Hills State School Multi-Fest
  36. •         SunPAC Summerfest
  37. •         Three Saints Festival
  38. •         United Nations Day
  39. •         Vesak – A Sri Lankan Experience
  40. •         Vietnamese New Year Festival
  41. •         World Refugee Day
  42. •         Zillmere Multicultural Festival.


Suburban Community Festivals:

  1.         4MBS Festival of Classics
  2.         Acacia Ridge Party in the Park
  3.         Anzac Day Dawn Service and Students’ Anzac Commemoration Ceremony
  4.         Ashgrove Carols by Candlelight
  5.         Backbone Festival
  6.         Backyard Bonanza
  7.         Bardon Community Carols
  8.         Bay Wave Youth and Community Festival
  9.         Brisbane Billycart Championships
  10.         Brisbane Cheese Festival
  11.         Brisbane International Jazz Festival
  12.         Brisbane Kite Festival
  13.         Brisbane Organic Growers Fair
  14.         Brisbane Portrait Prize
  15.         Brisbane Pride Festival
  16.         Brisbane Sings
  17.         Brookfield Christmas
  18.         Brookfield Show
  19.         Carols in the Park
  20.         Carols on the Range
  21.         Centenary Community Christmas Carols
  22.         Christmas 4 Kids
  23.         Christmas in July
  24.         Christmas in Sandgate
  25.         Christmas in the Grove
  26.         Christmas in the Park
  27.         Creative 3
  28.         Darra Street Festival
  29.         Einbunpin Festival
  30.         End of the Line Festival
  31.         Fair on the Green
  32.         Ferny Grove Festival
  33.         Goldicott
  34.         Great Aussie Pool Party
  35.         History Alive: A Journey Through Time
  36.         Indigo Fair
  37.         Keperra Christmas
  38.         Kurilpa Derby and Kurilpa Beggars’ Banquet
  39.         Lanham Park May Fair
  40.         Mandalay Jacaranda Festival
  41.         Manly Harbour Village Halloween Street Party
  42.         Moorooka Family Fun Day
  43.         Morningside Festival
  44.         Movies in the Park
  45.         Mt Coot-tha Songwriters Festival
  46.         Mt Gravatt Show
  47.         Music by the Sea
  48.         National Archaeology Week
  49.         National Week of Deaf People
  50.         Nundah Village Festival
  51.         Opera in the Gardens
  52.         Out of the Box (biennial)
  53.         Peaks to Points (biennial)
  54.         Pullen Vale Folk Festival
  55.         Queensland Cabaret Festival
  56.         Queensland Poetry Festival
  57.         Racecourse Road Up in Lights Festival
  58.         Rainbow Carnival 
  59.         Runcorn Family Fun Day
  60.         Sandcliffe Writers Festival
  61.         Sandgate Bluewater Festival
  62.         Sherwood Community Festival
  63.         Spring Hill Alive
  64.         Teneriffe Festival
  65.         Toowong Hands and Hearts Fair
  66.         Wakerley Rotary Christmas Carols
  67.         West End Film Festival
  68.         Wynnum Festival of Lights
  69.         Wynnum Manly Jazz Festival
  70.         Wynnum Seafood Festival.

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