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Committee progress report, 23 July 2018

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The Winter Magic Festival Association has begun planning for the 2019 festival.

We have recently had productive and encouraging meetings with key stakeholders from Blue Mountains City Council, Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise (BMEE), and the NSW Police Blue Mountains Local Area Command (BM LAC). BMEE has appointed a consultant to conduct a review of the festival and its structure, but this will take some weeks to complete. In the meantime, we have been making some big decisions. 

It is clear to us that the critical problem facing the festival is how to fit the people, a 1000-strong parade, and the stalls, into Katoomba Street. For the last eight years the police have required us to close Katoomba Street, Main Road, Parke Street and Yeaman Bridge so the parade can move safely from start to finish. These closures come at enormous cost to the Winter Magic Festival – closing Yeaman Bridge affects the highway so we have to pay for variable message signs. In the past that has been funded by increasing the number of stalls, but they take up space and reduce the room available for performers and people. We recognise that the current, familiar model is extremely difficult to sustain. A rethink is needed (and we do not want to move the festival away from Katoomba Street). 

We want to take the festival back to its heart, which is the community and the street. Our mission is to engage the people of Katoomba and the Blue Mountains in a sustainable, vibrant, annual community winter solstice celebration of the arts and creativity centred on Katoomba Street. We have resolved that: 

  • we want to make better use of the open space on Katoomba Street and activate more indoor spaces
  • we want to reduce the number of stalls
  • we want to spend less money on traffic management
  • we don't want to incur the cost of closing Yeaman Bridge

We have resolved to reduce the footprint of the festival so we don't have to close Yeaman Bridge but this will require thinking about alternatives to one big parade. How might we capture the vitality, magic and spectacle of the parade, without staging it as a single occurrence?

So, we are calling for ideas. We are also very keen to meet people who might be interested in volunteering as artistic directors. This is an urgent request – we really only have 12 weeks before we have to present our plan to police and other agencies.

If you would like to send us an expression of interest in being an artistic director, or join the Association, please advise the secretary, Ian Dudley-Bestow, on , before our next meeting, which is on 6 August 2018 at 7pm.

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