Serge and the St Kilda Festival

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Bonjour SKN readers,

I was quite excited when the team at SKN invited me to contribute to our wonderful St Kilda paper, which is about to celebrate its first birthday. Having a media background, I know how tough it is getting a newspaper out every month, especially on a very tight budget. Well done, Joel and the team, and Happy First Birthday!

Every month, I will be sharing my thoughts on matters that affect St Kilda – especially those that are close to my heart – as I see them. However, engaging with all members of our community is very important to me. It has been fundamental to my political involvement in Port Phillip, both during the unChain St Kilda campaign and in my current role as Councillor. So, of course, I welcome any feedback or questions from readers. I’ll be more than happy to respond.

This month, I’ll like to talk about the St Kilda Festival, which is imminent. It is over a week of activities and concerts through St Kilda, not just the Sunday! With my background in music, as a rock photographer, starting my career with INXS, the St Kilda Festival means a lot to me and I love it! It celebrates music and those who work in the industry. It provides a unique opportunity for local artists to perform and promote their music.

People also come from everywhere to celebrate the “beach culture” that St Kilda is known for. It is one of the world’s biggest free one-day street festivals, with more than 400,000 people coming to St Kilda just on the Sunday. It may be bigger than I would like: the Festival is sort of a victim of its own success. But, in the past couple of years, I think the Festival has been perceived as safer and more family-friendly – it is a joy to walk around all day, looking for that great new band!

But “free” festivals such as these are expensive for our Council to put on. The benefits the festivals bring to an area – to its residents, businesses and artists – have to be weighed against the obligation of councils to provide services to rate payers and residents. The St Kilda Festival is given some funding by bodies such as the State Government, but I believe that, to remain viable, the festival needs sponsorship from a couple of large organizations or corporate bodies. The Council has recently engaged the services of the best company in the business to do just that for the 2013 Festival.

This year, there will be 132 bands performing over 9 days. Let me just mention two acts. First, it will be a trip down memory lane for me with Boom Crash Opera on the main stage. I photographed them when they released their first single, “Great Wall”. I am also looking forward to seeing The Harry James Angus Band at the O’Donnell Gardens stage. I remember when Harry’s band, The Cat Empire, made their debut at the St Kilda Festival in 2005. And his other band, Jackson Jackson, with Jan Skubiszewski, had one of their best shows at the Festival in 2010. Now it’s nice to have Harry solo.

It’s going to be a wonderful week. See you there!

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