Grievance Debate - Mount Gambier Fringe

Tuesday March 16, 2021

Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (16:02): I rise to talk about Fringe Mount Gambier. I would like to give some big credit and thanks to the team behind Mount Gambier's Fringe festival today. In 2020, just 12 months ago, they were forced to cancel the festival with less than a week's notice obviously due to the pandemic. It was devastating for the team; however, they vowed to return in 2021—and that they have.

Big events take months and sometimes years to organise, so the ongoing uncertainty was something they really had to consider in the planning phase, whether in fact this year was going to go ahead at all and how it would be structured with COVID restrictions and people's close contact. They obviously had to think about border closures, lockdowns and a new ticketing system and basically had to redesign the festival from the ground up, taking into account the ever-changing world we live in.

They came up with a new format to showcase events and artists via the FringeIN, FringeOUT and FringeUP formats. This way, audiences could experience Fringe in different ways, heading out to see events at different venues, tuning in to see live-streamed events and also taking part in the festival by decorating their houses and businesses. During the 10 days of the festival, there were more than 60 events planned across 20 venues. The opening weekend was last weekend and it was a huge success, to see the confidence returning to the events and hospitality scene after the year that was 2020.

There is a reason we have been called the Festival State for years. Events and festivals are a vital part of South Australia's culture. Not only do they provide some fun and vibrancy to regional communities but they also showcase our state's world-class food and wine offerings and our strong arts and sports culture. They provide a reason for people to travel to the host town and provide a huge boost to local economies.

For the last three years, the Mount Gambier Fringe has benefited from a major funding commitment from the state government, through Arts South Australia. That ends this year, and today I asked the Premier in question time about ongoing funding so that this event can occur with some certainty. What would be very devastating is for the organising committee to wander off, find other interests, and the uncertainty of funding to be the catalyst for this year being the last Fringe Mount Gambier.

The Marshall Liberal government has put an extra $1 million in regional events during this year through the 2021-22 Regional Event Fund. As our community recovers from the pandemic, the Fringe is bringing some much-needed life back to the hospitality and entertainment industries, which have been devastated by COVID. It is hugely important to ensure that these events continue in regional and rural communities and for our state government to show their support financially for them to be sustainable.

I would like to congratulate Louise Adams, Talie Teakle, Shylie Barry and Tammy Flier on bringing us this year's Fringe Mount Gambier and all the hard work that they have put in during the previous 12 months to get Mount Gambier ready. It really is a showcase, when streets are blocked off and Jens Hotel commandeers an entire corner of Mount Gambier. With 60 different events, there is something for everybody.

An act I saw a couple of years ago, but she was back this year, is Elise. Elise has been blind since the age of two and she is a comedian. I saw her act a couple of years ago. It is outstanding for someone who lives in Robe who has been trained in the arts to come out and do a performance. That was on the back of the member for Mawson getting up and doing a comedy act at the South Aussie Hotel. That might sound easy, this but it does take a lot of guts to get up in front of a large crowd when you are a politician and perhaps not that funny. He certainly turned it on and did a great job. I give credit to the member for Mawson for his input into Fringe Mount Gambier. I wish the festival a very bright and successful future.