When it comes to Australian music, Aussie festivals know how to do it right. As the nation celebrates Ausmusic Month throughout November, a look across the country’s festival line-ups points to an ongoing and intentional focus on local and national artists, artist development and community engagement.
Since their inception, events such as Woodford Folk Festival (QLD), Mullum Music Festival (NSW) and Cygnet Folk Festival (TAS) have been celebrating and showcasing Australian artists, and this commitment continues in 2018. Each of these festivals has over 80% Australian artists in their line-ups this year, and a strong focus on artist development.
Woodford Folk Festival has just announced its programme for 2018/19 event, happening from 27 December - 1 January on its 500-acre dedicated festival site one hour north of Brisbane. Now in its 33rd year, the inclusion of Australian music continues to be a priority for this iconic festival.
Head of Programming Chloe Goodyear says that championing Australian music comes naturally to the team at Woodford Folk Festival. “This year Australian music makes up over 90% of our musical programme, and every year it would be over 85%. We don't set quotas because we don't need to, really, it's ingrained in us that part of our organisation's mission is to foster and stimulate the folk culture of Australia.” “Australian music as an idea is so broad - Woodford presents a huge range of what would be easily referenced as 'Ausmusic', a lot of content from First Nations Australians and also a lot of the preserved living cultures of Australia's migrant populations.
We're part of a strong and flourishing musical ecology that thrives by doing business through multiple outlets - the live musical culture in Australia is a really important way to access new music and music that doesn't appear immediately in the commercial arena.”
This year Woodford Folk Festival presents over 400 Australian artists, including The Cat Empire, Alex the Astronaut, Jo Jo Smith, Julia Jacklin, Vince Jones and the Astral Orchestra, Tullara, 8 Ball Aitken, Brendan MacLean, The Waifs and more. The festival champions not only Australian musicians, but also cabaret performers, comedians, street theatre artists and more.
Contributing to that live music culture and ecology is Mullum Music Festival, celebrating its 11th year on 15-18 November 2018.
The line-up includes Gordi, Husky, Caiti Baker, Lior, Kaiit and William Crighton. With a programme that is made up of 82% Australian artists and 30% local Northern Rivers NSW artists, Australian music priority has long been a passion of Festival Director Glenn Wright. “Mullum Music Festival has always been committed to showcasing Australian artists. We’re also committed to local artists, and dedicate a third of the program to artists from the Northern Rivers region of NSW. This creates an amazing level of excitement and engagement as local musicians get to share their art with interstate and international artists. For international artists, it's a chance for them to meet and engage with Australian artists and particularly with artists of the region they are visiting. It's this engagement and connection that makes a true music festival rather than a bunch of concerts.” “Mullum Music Festival also runs a very successful Youth Mentorship Program where young Australian artists under 21 are mentored by established acts on the festival bill.
This year Lior, Husky, William Crighton and Shelly Brown will all be mentoring young, emerging talent.” Projects such as Folk Alliance Australia’s Youth Music Awards, presented in partnership with the National Folk Festival (whose winners are showcasing at Woodford Folk Festival and Cygnet Folk Festival) and Mullum’s Youth Mentorship Program support the next generation of Australian musicians. These performance and mentoring opportunities provide an ongoing space for upcoming Australian musicians in festivals across the country, and contribute to a sustained national commitment to Australian music. image image In 2019, Cygnet Folk Festival continues to focus not only on Australian acts, but also Tasmanian local artists. This year the festival will host 123 acts, of those 46 are from mainland Australia and 64 from Tasmania - that’s an Australian music contingent of 89% for the festival’s 37th year.
Cygnet has a reputation for providing a space for local Tasmanian artists, who face challenges due to the remote nature of the island. The financial benefits for artists, combined with the opportunity to perform at such a well regarded festival, assists in buoying the local and national music scene.
Artistic Director Erin Collins reflects on the importance of Australian music priority in festival line-ups. “Folk festivals have a reputation of being friendly and inclusive events, but like all in the music industry we are also acutely aware of our responsibilities in supporting our amazing Australian artists. We have the opportunity as programmers to showcase great Australian acts to our audiences alongside their possibly more well-known international peers. We also have the potential to showcase and recommend them to other programmers, agents and venue managers in the industry.”
“The calibre of musicianship in this country is world class so any sort of cultural cringe is, in my opinion, poor judgement. Musicians of all genre are well represented in this country, as one would expect from a land predominantly of settlers from all over the world. In addition to seasoned performers who have well and truly earned their place in the Australian music scene, the talent and musicianship displayed by many younger performers will surely mean that the future of the Australian music scene is in good hands.”
The 37th annual Cygnet Folk Festival
3 days | 9 venues | Over 100 performers
11 - 13 January 2019
Tickets now on sale at https://www.cygnetfolkfestival.org/
For all media enquiries contact:
0402 004 551
These festivals are just a snapshot of the many Australian events, both across Ausmusic Month and year-round, who are dedicated to booking and supporting a plethora of talented Australian artists.