Findings from a detailed audience survey conducted by the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour emphasise the enduring popularity of the biennial celebration of art, music, theatre and conversation as well as the important economic benefit it brings to the region.
The online questionnaire asked all ticket buyers to rate each performance they attended and polled responses on topics including how many nights they stayed during the festival, how much they spent on travel and accommodation, the friendliness of staff and volunteers and what motivated them to attend.
The average score for overall satisfaction with the festival was 9.1/10 (with 10 being extremely satisfied) and overall value for money was rated 8.8/10.
When asked about their favourite performances, festivalgoers rated Michael Houstoun’s Beethoven sonatas, early settlers play On the Upside Down of the World, poetry and song from Bill Manhire, Hannah Griffin and Norman Meehan plus Lloyd Geering’s Aspiring Conversations session the highest.
More than half of all respondents would like to see more international artists with a preference for comedy, dance and theatre.
The average spend per person while away from home was $411. Taken together with total guest nights during the festival (53% of respondents stayed in the region between three and seven nights), this represents a significant off-season boost to the Southern Lakes economy.
At the same time as releasing the survey findings, festival organisers are also finalising end of year accounts and provisionally report a small operating profit that will be carried over to invest in future years. They also confirm a donation of more than $7,000 to Wanaka Rotary as a result of ticket sales for the festival’s Art at Home tour. This will be used to fund a local sculptural installation.
Festival director, Philip Tremewan said this year’s festival had been a wonderful success and thanked the audience, sponsors, volunteers and the management team.
“We’re delighted to report record tickets sales, more people staying longer and spending more in the region, plus a successful community programme with free events, thousands raised for Rotary and taking our schoolfest to more than 2,000 children from Makarora to Queenstown,” he said.
“We’re very pleased with the audience feedback which is a testament to the fantastic support we receive from sponsors and the local community. We’re proud of what we achieved this year but certainly won’t be resting on our laurels. The team is pushing ahead with exciting new ideas to make the festival better and brighter than ever.”
As in previous years, festivalgoers this year were predominantly female (78%) but there was an increase in the number of younger attendees with 18% under 40 (10% in 2011).
Mr Tremewan said this was a result of a varied programme with included late night shows like Adam Page and Aaron Tokona as well as performances like Tracing Hamlet which included cast and crew members drawn from the local community.
“We always strive to find a good balance between shows that will be obvious crowd pleasers and those we know will challenge and surprise audiences,” he said.
“A great example is On the Upside Down of the World. Word of mouth about this stunning, one-woman performance spread like wildfire leading to an extra night and full houses leaving Luggate Memorial Hall absolutely mesmerised.”
Philip added the festival board was considering several topics raised in the survey including creating a dedicated dancing area in front of the stage for some music acts, how to include more community events alongside the ticketed programme and how to build on the growing popularity of the festival’s Queenstown programme.
The 2013 Southern Lakes Festival of Colour ran from 16-21 April, supported by Central Lakes Trust, the Community Trust of Otago, Creative New Zealand and Aurora Energy. For further information visit www.festivalofcolour.co.nz.