Byron Shire mayor Jan Barham says suggestions in yesterday’s Echonetdaily that an Aboriginal festival proposed by Bunjalung artistic director Rhoda Roberts would not receive council approval were ‘disappointing’, ‘distressing’ and ‘unfounded’.
Cr Barham told Echonetdaily that, as she understood it, the festival would be classified as a cultural event and therefore would not be caught up in the draft LEP’s limitation on major music events in the shire.
The mayor said she met with Ms Roberts last year and they had discussed the possibility of moving a version of the Dreaming Festival, previously held at Woodford, in Byron.
She said, ‘if there was a genuine attempt to hold a Dreaming-like cultural event in Byron Shire, Council would be very supportive’.
‘I met with Rhoda and said I can’t give authority, it would need to get clarification of council, but it would be seen as a cultural festival rather than a specific music festival and would not be affected by the policy. ‘
Cr Barham added that there had been no further communication about the proposed Boomerang Festival, as it was to be rebranded, nor had Council received any application.
‘I was expecting to get a proposal that council could endorse or support. We’ve had no application – nothing in writing.
‘I think if there was a cultural festival being organised, and Mr Noble’s property was proposed, from what has been suggested it would not seem to me to fall into the restricted category, even though music would form a part of it.
‘The festival would be far more than an amplified music festival – it would have a broad cultural context.
She said that she was disappointed that the comments had come to light in the context of the exhibition of the shire’s LEP amendment to limit major music events in the shire (with audiences of more than 6,000 people) to two per year.
‘I’ve spoken to Peter [Noble] and said the same thing to him. Mr Noble is not the determining authority of whether an event will meet the criteria. I find this extremely disappointing given that I have had that discussion previously.
She added, ‘Byron Council has a really proud record of dealing with Aboriginal people, including supporting the Arakwal through their indigenous land rights agreements.’
‘To have a statement like this – without any framework or decision being made – is really distressing.’