Thanks to everybody who provided feedback about the 2013 Midsumma Festival, which was held from Sunday 13 January to Sunday 3 February, 2013.
Summary of Multiple Choice Answers
Feedback about Festival Events
The feedback about the quality of the 2013 program was overwhelmingly positive. However, whilst a number of people commented that the program is too oriented towards the Gay and Lesbian community, with not enough emphasis on Bisexual, Transexual and Intersex specific programming, conversely, others commented that the quality of the programming is too variable and that the gay and lesbian culture within Midsumma has been diluted. Midsumma also received phone calls and emails independent of the feedback form regarding community concerns that the 2013 program was ‘too lesbian-centric’ as well as concerns that there was ‘not enough programming for women’..
The upshot is that the Queer community is extremely diverse and multi-faceted. As such, we would like to take this opportunity to explain how Midsumma is curated and programmed and how you can help to effect change in future years.
Midsumma consists of two categories of events; Premier Events, which are selected by the Midsumma Premier Event Selection Committee, Midsumma Board and Midsumma Management against a set criteria and after a submission process, and Registered Events, whereby absolutely anybody is encouraged to enter an event in the festival, and so long as it's legal it will be accepted! This does mean that Midsumma is not able to “curate” or “screen” the Registered Events program, though we do our best to ensure that the event is described as accurately as possible to assist audiences. Because the Premier Events have gone through a selection process, you can be more certain that these events will be of a fairly high quality. Remember though: sometimes what one person might describe as "absolutely terrible" may be described by the person sitting next to them as "the best I’ve ever seen"! Also, part of the curatorial process of Premier Event selection is to choose as diverse a range of quality events as possible. Midsumma is proudly an open-access festival, and we actively encourage new talent in a number of ways: by providing information and advice; by assisting to arrange funding or to locate a venue; and sometimes we can even assist with production of the event.
Carnival and T Dance
Dust, Congestion & "Lack of Toilets"
We received a lot of feedback criticising the "dustbowl at Birrarung Marr" this year, as well as the level of crowding, congestion and "the lack of toilets".
We agree that dust in the Stallholders area in general is a problem, and that the level of dust this year was intolerable. It was worse than normal due to the lack of rain in the weeks leading up to Carnival as well as the water rejuvenation project works at Birrarung Marr, which meant we had to reduce the pathways within the Stallholders area, as well as use the stallholder space as the major thoroughfare - simply, more feet in a more constrained area makes more dust! Midsumma are investigating environmentally-friendly dust-settling products, however these are currently beyond our financial reach. We will continue to work with City of Melbourne in overcoming this issue.
Toilets: every year we are told there are not enough toilets, though the problem generally isn't lack of toilets, but rather the lack of toilets exactly where people want them to be. Please understand that there are many factors to be balanced in locating the toilets - including truck access to install them, hygiene issues, congestion reduction and aesthetics. For Carnival 2013, Midsumma invested in increased signage onsite to direct the public to the toilet blocks – however feedback leads us to believe that the public did not note and/or read these signs.
"Carnival is too spread out"
One of our biggest challenges in producing Carnival is in creating an event that everyone in our incredibly diverse GLBTIQ community, of all ages, is able to enjoy and participate in. Another great challenge is coping with the vagaries of Melbourne's equally diverse weather! Hence, we believe there's a need for a series of separate spaces, which together can satisfy most attendees, come rain, hail or shine. We know that not all areas will appeal to everybody, but hopefully on the day everybody will be able to find a shady tree, grassy space, bar or stage to enjoy. Disagree with this? Then let us know: we are currently asking for public comment to help shape Carnival 2014 at What shape should Midsumma Opening Events take?
Location of Carnival
Midsumma was forced to move from Alexandra Gardens due to the zoning restrictions on the space. Simply, if we host T Dance as a ticketed event, it cannot be held at Alexandra Gardens. Alexandra Gardens is Crown Land and therefore no ticketed event can be held within the grounds without acquiring permits that are beyond Midsumma's resources and finances.
In order to qualify for the substantial funding generously provided by the City of Melbourne, Carnival must be held within the City of Melbourne. Birrarung Marr is the largest space with convenient transport and public accessibility options, where a free and a ticketed event can be held side-by-side, within the City of Melbourne. The alternatives are that Carnival becomes a paid event, held in a private and less-centrally located venue, for example, Melbourne Showgrounds, or that another Local City Council provides a new home for the event plus significant funding, comparable to that provided by the City of Melbourne, to assist in the running of Carnival. Another option is that Midsumma ceases to run Carnival and/or T Dance in their current formats.
Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more information.