President's Report: 2008
Midsumma 2008 was warmly embraced by Melbourne's GLBTI community, with an expanded selection of community and Midsumma produced events on offer. Melbourne experienced an influx of overseas and interstate participants here to compete and celebrate in the 1st Asia Pacific Outgames and there was a wide selection of parties, arts and cultural events for a diverse audience to attend. The program was almost literally bursting at the seams!
What Worked Well?
The change to use the Carnival back at the popular Alexandra Gardens as the opening celebration was accepted well by many, and although the decision to produce only one major event rather than two was made to reduce the cost base, it also had the additional benefit of allowing the Midsumma team, most of whom are over-worked volunteers, to have a more singular focus. We were able to have multi food vendors, and efficient access to food and drinks was returned to the hungry and the thirsty!
Jarrod Hughes, our recently departed GM did a great job in terms of visibility and community engagement. He was running hard and passionate about the delivery of new streams such as the Food and Wine program and was active in developing great relationships with our festival Hubs.
The number of event options for people was prolific and wide ranging! There really was something for everyone and new additions such as the interactive art party "pARTy" and the season of new 10 minute plays, Pink Shorts was inspiring.
The Visual Arts program was strong and diverse, with powerful work presented as part of Queer City and the Yarra Arts program in particular. The introduction of Queer UNIverse for students expanded the participation of the community. Various Literature Events & Discussion Forums were also well attended.
Having designated Hubs for events gave audiences a clear sense of where to go, and contained the large program to a few great spaces. We'd like to acknowledge and thank Chapel off Chapel, Gasworks, The Artery, The Glasshouse and The Butterfly Club for making Midsumma such a success.
The new web site platform was easier to update and keep fresh and the entire migration of content and on-going editing of the site was done with great professionalism - thanks in particular to member and volunteer, Alan Drummond.
The board was very cohesive and hands on. We worked well together and there was a great injection of new talent from Adelaide's Feast with Kylie Bartel, Sam Jacob and Dean Hamood.
The 2008 theme, brand design and the consistent way it was presented was excellent, Omega working with Raft Communications did a great job in building a highly recognised brand for the festival.
The on-going support from our Government partners, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, Arts Victoria and Tourism Victoria is magnificent and keeps Midsumma able to deliver the high quality festival each year.
What Didn't Work Well?
In kind and partner sponsorship for events was great - Simon Patterson did an excellent job putting deals together and managing relationships. Managing past sponsors and getting new ones however were under resourced. In fact since sponsorship has been "in house" Midsumma has not performed well in this area. Last year our media partner Bnews sold guide advertising and did a good job. In 2009 we're exploring a similar outsourced approach for sponsorship.
The rain at Carnival meant we had fewer donations at the gates. Fortunately we had already created a lower cost base Carnival, as ideally we were aiming to make up for last year's deficit. The rain also kept T dance patrons at a lower number than we'd hoped for.
Not having a dedicated publicist caused some pain points for registered events and office staff that relied on professional assistance in getting the word out about shows and events. The media coverage was actually quite comprehensive, but we intend to allocate funds for a publicist in 2009.
Some of the more party orientated events were light on in numbers or in some cases cancelled due to poor pre event ticket sales. This created a good debate about what the GLBTI audience want during a festival, and what kind of events are already being provided by venues and party producers year round.
SummaClub was our attempt to increase membership via a new member benefits program. It was time consuming and took enormous effort, thanks to Omega for taking it on. We've decided to go back to a more straight forward membership drive in 2009.
What Was Hard to Bear?
The loss of Zoe Belle just as the 2008 festival opened was a shock to many in the Midsumma community. Zoe was a fantastic and passionate contributor to the festival and we still can't believe she's gone.
What We Want in 2009
Tim Dart, our outgoing Treasurer was pro active and hands on. The role of Treasurer is huge, and we're grateful to have secured an experienced and capable Treasurer in Dean this year. Some of the improvement in reporting that Tim started is now in full project mode, with Dean and Adam reviewing all the current processes and accounting methodology to ensure we get better data to make decisions with.
Securing the services of Adam Lowe in the role of GM for the festival has been terrific. His attention to detail, calm and methodical approach is just what we need in a year of consolidation and review as we ensure we stay financially secure.
A closer connection with Pride March, we're hopeful that we can collaborate more closely with Pride and continue to share resources.
Last year, with Ronit's ticketing expertise we introduced the Sabo platform. This year if possible, we'd like to extend the ticketing system to allow all registered events access to use it and make buying tickets to Midsumma events very simple and fast with all events having 100% online options.
In 2009 we'll design a program that celebrates 21 years of Midsumma - it's our coming out! We'll adopt the new tag line "Midsumma; Celebrating Queer Culture" as an acknowledgment of the many bisexual and transsexual people who feel excluded by the G & L tag. Many people aren't comfortable with Queer as a phrase either, so we're expecting some good debate as a result - even amongst our own Midsumma board and team! Thank you also to all the board, past and present, the staff in the office and to the members of the Programming, Marketing, Major Events and Visual Arts working groups, whose contribution of time and effort means so much to the delivery of this festival.