FOTSUN founder, Simon Luke, says music festival culture enhances the region

Flashback: The crowd get into it during a live performance at FOTSUN in 2015. Photo: Matt Attard
Flashback: The crowd get into it during a live performance at FOTSUN in 2015. Photo: Matt Attard

MIXING the laid back Australian lifestyle with live music is an ever-growing trend among young people.

Music festivals are popping up in Coffs Harbour, Forster, Grafton, Lennox Head with Port Macquarie the home to the long-running annual Festival of the Sun (FOTSUN).

Event creator and organiser, Simon Luke, said the strong camping and road trip culture is a good thing.

“People want to get out of those built up areas like Sydney and Newcastle to get into the regional towns to spend their dollars, which is a great trend that continues to grow,” he said.

“It’s why other regions are also doing boutique festivals. It’s a really important part of cultural tourism and the regional tourism product now.”

Mr Luke said there is a lot of stigma surrounding festivals like FOTSUN, but it is not warranted.

“I think one of the really positive elements is that festivals like FOTSUN work with so many community groups in the region,” he said.

“It allows us to get a realistic snapshot of what’s happening in that demographic. It also allows us to educate them.

“Getting so many like-minded people in the one environment is a positive experience.”

Tackling issues such as drug and alcohol abuse are important for the event’s identity.

“There are many organisations involved that see that getting these young people together is a fantastic opportunity,” Mr Luke said.

“We have organisations like Headspace, Lifeline, NSW Health and local emergency services involved.

For us to get into a festival environment, educate them and create an informal environment to talk to them about it all is a great thing.

Simon Luke

“There are rules in place. We have had great feedback from the community and from a range of community leaders.

“We operate on the basis that we are very open-door operators and love to receive and utilise feedback.

“We find that surrounding neighbours are giving very good feedback, and others who offer criticism but again, we have an open-door policy so that they can take that opportunity to talk to us directly to see what the problem might be.”

Residents in the nearby Northpoint Apartments had no complaints when the Port News spoke with them.

“I’ve been living here for some time and they always seem to knock it off by the time I go to sleep,” one resident said.

“I haven’t had to make any complaints yet but I can’t speak for everyone who lives around here.”

Mr Luke said the event committee works stricly with council curfews, and extremely closely with the police.

“They are an important part of dictating what they may feel is an offensive noise level and work closely to make sure we remove that noise,” he said.

Mid-week noise level curfews are 11pm, and midnight on the weekends.

“Our live music finishes at 10pm sharp and always has,” he said.

“I think, again, it’s not just about education for the young people at festivals but in society.

“For us to get into a festival environment, educate them and create an informal environment to talk to them about it all is a great thing.”