Sunfest future in limbo

(L-R) Alyssa, Zoe, Yindi the mascot, Jacinta and Makayla at SunFest before COVID-19 hit. (Joe Mastroianni). 225553_01

Zoe Moffatt

The future of Sunbury’s 48 year old festival, SunFest, is in doubt, after Hume council reduced its grant by almost half, leaving organisers to fill an $80,000 funding hole.

Speaking at a council meeting on November 13, Sunfest treasurer Shona Davie said organisers would like Hume council to reconsider its grant recommendation worth $18,750, with $3500 service in-kind.

“SunFest is orchestrated entirely by dedicated volunteers who invest an extensive amount of time and effort into carefully planning and executing this vital community celebration,” she said.

“The task of managing these events comes notably more challenging due to substantial focus on funding, a task made even more daunting by the post COVID era.

“Events such as SunFest play a pivotal role in displaying the town spirit effectively uniting and attracting community members.

“SunFest, with its deep roots stretching back to the 1970s, has evolved into a beloved family friendly, two day celebration.”

Ms Davie said last year SunFest cost approximately $100,000 to stage, and dropping the funding by almost half is detrimental to the event.

“Maintaining fair… support from council is crucial to avoid burdening the community with overwhelming financial responsibilities,” she said

“Or [face] the risk of losing a cherished festival that encapsulates the true essence of Sunbury.”

Councillor Jarrod Bell moved the event grant recommendations, with a clause that council develop an additional category with the aim to provide multi-year funding.

“It is getting harder and harder for these volunteer events to survive,” Cr Bell said.

“I can’t tell you how frustrating it is for these dedicated groups to see the support they get from council for providing this service dwindle.

“To put this into a clearer perspective… by comparison, I understand they’re not an exact comparison, but Craigieburn festival is a 100 per cent council run event [that] costs about $200,000.

“It is time for council to offer the partnership that these events need and to create a pathway to provide sustainable funding support so that we don’t lose these events.

“Because that’s what I’m worried about. [SunFest] are struggling and they will disappear if we don’t step up.”