Byron Shire should be the regional arts and festival capital of Australia: that’s the mantra of Bluesfest festival director Peter Noble, who recently took out the Best Regional Event at the Australian Event Awards for the second time.
‘People talk about the Byron brand,’ says Mr Noble, ‘and we, the creative industries, are also a big part of the Byron brand. I think we should recognise who we are to bring even greater wealth and prosperity to the region, and that is why I keep saying this and have done for 10 years. We need to adopt the slogan: “Byron, the Regional Arts and Festival Capital of Australia”.’
Peter believes that in doing so, we would be creating an even more hospitable climate for wealth, art and culture creation.
The way to do it, says Peter, is to get our local council to lobby state and federal members.
After his second win, Peter is a little despondent that in the last decade that this hasn’t already happened.
‘I have put the idea to them repetitively for 10 years, but now we have a progressive Green council and mayor, things might be different.
‘I think people would agree that we are the festival and arts capital of Australia, so naming us as such would just be saying who we are – this rap isn’t about blues festival; the fact I have won this regional event puts the spotlight on our region, and in my experience, you use these opportunities to advance these causes.’
Challenge to tourism
Peter believes that the tourism industry is slow to recognise the important role of arts and festivals in the region and is consequently slow to include operators in many of the conversations that might drive them forward towards a more unified income.
‘My business alone produces more income than the entire agricultural business of Byron Shire… that’s just my arts business alone. If you put the other arts businesses in with us, we would be up there challenging tourism.
‘They recently had a Byron Tourism Symposium here and not one event manager was invited!’