President's Report: 2009
Midsumma 2009 was successful. For the board and the Midsumma team that's measured by delivering on what we set out to achieve; a vibrant and sustainable festival program produced by the community, comprehensive accurate festival guide on the streets, an easy - to - use and updated daily web site, with informative Midsumma email newsletters throughout the year, the capacity for people to buy tickets online and in venues via an online ticketing platform implementation, a new logo, a visual arts program and a large community celebration at Carnival. Importantly we needed to do all this with a surplus of funds at the end!
The opening celebration of the festival at Alexandra Gardens was excellent this year, due in part to some exceptional (for Melbourne!) weather. The perfect temperature assisted in getting very high attendances throughout the day. We programmed performances on one stage and this worked well in reducing the infrastructure complexity and cost.
A partnership with the Market hotel to produce T Dance worked well and was designed to reduce the risk on the festival if numbers fell lower than budgeted. Rather than a license fee or similar we moved to a profit share arrangement. Fortunately the number of attendees to T Dance was higher than budgeted and both The Market and Midsumma were able to chalk up the event as a success.
Guide and Media
Midsumma entered an agreement with Evolution publishing to sell advertising, print and distribute the festival guide. The guide was high quality, and achieved all it's objectives in terms of accuracy, layout and design. It was excellent to have the MCV team responsible for selling advertising and managing these relationships the outsourced model is one we are certain offers a better outcome for the festival. The partnership allows us to deliver a high quality guide that doesn't expose us to cost /revenue drivers in the same way it would if we were working in house. In 2010 we'll improve on the distribution of the printed guide (we had anecdotal feedback that guides where hard to find in some locations and over supplied in others) and work to earlier deadlines.
The Visual Arts program was powerful and diverse, with strong work presented as part of Queer City, and the Yarra Arts and Destinations program in particular. Well done and thank you to Tim Bateson for managing the excellent program and thanks to all the artists who contributed to the shows.
In 2009 we were able to continue our work with the Midsumma Hubs. Apart from giving audiences a clear sense of where to go, the hubs allowed artists' work to be curated and presented in a highly professional and supported way. We'd like to acknowledge and thank Chapel off Chapel, Gasworks, The Glasshouse, and The Butterfly Club for making Midsumma such a success. We're excited to announce the Northcote Town Hall as a new Festival Hub, for the 2010 festival.
The Midsumma website platform we invested in 2008 was able to be kept fresh and the on-going content creation and editing of the site was done with great professionalism thanks in particular to member and volunteer, Alan Drummond.
Introducing online registration for stallholders at Carnival and for Community Event Producers reduced the workload of the staff and increased the level of information provided to audiences.
New Tag Line & Logo
In 2009 we designed a program that celebrated 21 years of Midsumma and adopted the new tag line Midsumma; Celebrating Queer Culture as an acknowledgment of the many bisexual, transgender and queer people who feel excluded by the G & L tag. This change actually generated only a little debate as a result perhaps it really was time!
The new corporate logo was designed by Hammer and Tong, who have created something the community received well and captures the essence of a collaborative community.
Midsumma implemented an online ticketing platform that ran smoothly. Apart from making it easier for audiences to plan and purchase tickets to all events, the organisation was able to have insight and data into sales of shows. A ticketing platform also reduced the risk of bad debt from registered events, which had been a hard to resolve issue for every past festival.
Part of the reason things have run so smoothly this year is the organisational structure we have put in place. In the past, funds have been allocated to hire staff such as a GM and production crew. Rather than do this, the Midsumma board has contracted the services of the Adam Lowe Group to manage the operational and production elements of the festival including all administration. Adam receives a fee and his staff work on Midsumma, and on other arts and cultural events and productions at other times during the year. This delivers Midsumma a more sustainable resource base at a lower rate and is
working very well for us as a model. It eradicates problems most festivals face in terms of corporate memory due to staff turn over and allows the board to focus on strategic issues rather than hiring and managing a large team of people directly. Adam and his team have been excellent and the board feels very fortunate that we've been able to secure the services of ALG.
The on-going support from our Government partners, City of Melbourne, City of Yarra, Arts Victoria, Tourism Victoria is magnificent and greatly supports Midsumma in delivering the high quality festival each year. To our corporate partner IBM thank you for your continued commitment to diversity, we look forward to great successes in 2010.
Thank you also to all the board, past and present 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.
The 22nd festival will run between 17 January and 7 February 2010. Melbourne's annual festival celebrating queer culture, Midsumma, will again bring queer life to the city in 2010.
See you in 2010!
Download the 2009 Annual Report (pdf 1.4MB)