Moonee Valley Council has voted unanimously to end the Moonee Valley Festival as we know it.
Following officers’ recommendations (p.71 of linked agenda), seven councillors have voted to change the festival from its current single day event at Queens Park, to a multi-day, multi-event festival, initially with an event in each ward – including a central event at the Maribyrnong River.
In 2019, one of the three events will be a remodelled Mediterranean Fiesta.
A separate officers’ report says that “by 2020, the Festival would transform into a celebration of Moonee Valley across all neighbourhoods, activating various spaces and facilities and engaging and partnering with local community groups and artists.”
The recommendation appears to be based on a new emphasis on 20 minute neighbourhood planning which has been a pivotal element of MV2040, and a desire to redistribute a concentration of events from Moonee Ponds and Ascot Vale/Flemington to the northern part of the municipality where fewer events are currently delivered.
“The Moonee Valley Festival is our biggest opportunity to adopt a broad reaching neighbourhood based events model,” says the report.
A councillor also cited the $211K cost of the Moonee Valley Festival as a reason for redistributing the event.
Officers have written that consultation took place through the MV2040 long term plan, and at a Portfolio Advisory Committee on 23 May.
I was at this PAC meeting, and the question of reconfiguring the festival was not part of the discussion. The three community members present were asked what sort of neighbourhood events we would like to see in Moonee Valley.
While the officers’ report says “the PAC provided valuable input and feedback on the drafted recommendations”, recommendations regarding the festival were not presented at the meeting.
The Council review places greater emphasis on Christmas Carols in Queens Park as a municipal event, and a multi-faceted event on January 26.
These dates potentially exclude some residents on religious or cultural grounds.
At the Council meeting, Cr Byrne said the changes won’t be loved by all.
“It might ruffle a few feathers” to move the Moonee Valley Festival from Queens Park, she said. “We have to give some things a go some time.”
Cr Gauci Maurici said the Moonee Valley festival was not working in its current form. The officers’ report did not appear to provide an evaluation of the festival.
Cr Lawrence says we have had the Moonee Valley Festival for forty years. “Sure it’s got its drawbacks, but it’s a focus for the entire municipality. It draws everyone … it is a great festival. I’d hate to lose it.”
“A lot of people in MV look forward to the festival every year,” he said.
Mayor Sipek said “We’re going back to the future.” “It’s something new; it’s something innovative.”
In closing her motion, Cr Byrne said “if it doesn’t work out we can always .. go back”.
She said Council is not ending the Moonee Valley Festival: “we are holding it across three days in different locations”.
What do you think?
Should the Moonee Valley Festival be changed from a one-day event at Queens Park?