Cronulla's Endless Summer Festival Has Been Cancelled

21 November 2014 | 10:44 am | Staff Writer

Organisers say funding was pulled "last-minute" by local council

Cronulla's eagerly awaited end-of-year Endless Summer Festival has been cancelled following an apparent "last-minute decision" by Sutherland Shire Council to cut its funding, event founder and director Mario Kalpou announced early this morning.

"It's with regret that I confirm we're unable to proceed with staging the 2014 Endless Summer Festival," Kalpou said in a statement. "Without warning, the Sutherland Shire Council has pulled $50,000 in sponsorship funds, and as a direct result we are unable to proceed with staging the event.

"The event is a free community event, not ticketed, and there is no way this close to the event launching that we can hope to make up a $50,000 budget shortfall. It is devastating."

The festival, whose first event last year boasted a line-up sporting the likes of Bluejuice, Touch Sensitive, Asta,The Preatures, Dustin Tebbutt, Amy Meredith and many others, was due to be held from December 26-28 in Cronulla's Gunnamatta Park.

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"The funds have been pulled at the eleventh hour; it's hugely disappointing," Kalpou said. "If it had happened earlier in the year, I could have found another sponsor and the event would have proceeded, but with Council doing this so-last minute, I am unable to fill such a big hole in the budget.

"I personally have committed hundreds of hours, employed staff since the beginning of the year and garnered a lot of support from local businesses and other sponsors. A lot of people are going to be disappointed the event isn't going ahead, and none more so than me."

Despite the alleged "last-minute" pulling of the plug by Council, funding woes have been encircling this year's event since at least last month, when local paper St George & Sutherland Shire Leader published an article detailing the council's decision to refuse the festival's request for $150,000 in sponsorship, instead promising $20,000 — not $50,000 — in-kind to be used for post-event clean-up.

"Last year, the organisers asked for $150,000 and we gave them $50,000," Sutherland Shire councillor Kevin Schreiber told the paper. "They asked for $150,000 this year and it is proposed we give them $20,000.

"I think we should give them $15,000 and also tell them that council sponsorship will not be available next year."

"The council is becoming the last resort for businesses," he continued. "I think we have got to take a good, hard look at our funding strategy."

Last year's Endless Summer festival attracted more than 50,000 people to the region over its three-day duration, bringing with it a significant boost to local revenues. This year's free event was set to top those figures, with several charities and local schools who were to participate in various aspects of the festival being left in the lurch.

However, despite the unfortunate turn, Kalpou is determined to bring the Endless Summer Festival back in 2015.

"The event was such a coup for the region," Kalpou said. "It's hard to comprehend local government doing what the Sutherland Shire Council has done. It's crushing.

"We are, however, already making plans for the 2015 event. I refuse to let them ruin the spirit of what was such an awesome free community event … we'll be back even bigger and better next year."

UPDATE: A Sutherland Shire Council spokesperson has issued a statement explaining their reasoning for denying funding to the event. Read it below:

"Sutherland Shire Council received a request for $150,000 in sponsorship for the Endless Summer 2014 event. From that request, the event organisers were asked to provide further information on the expenditure of council's sponsorship of $50,000 for the inaugural Endless Summer event in 2013 and how the request for $150,000 funding for the 2014 event would be spent.

"Once further information was received, Council made a decision on 13 October, 2014 to offer Endless Summer organisers $15,000 in kind support to provide waste removal, litter collection and toilet cleaning at Gunnamatta Park over the three day event.

"While Council is keen to see events run in the Shire, it is very conscious of spending ratepayers’ money wisely and prioritises grant requests from community organisations over ‘for profit’ events such as Endless Summer.

"Unfortunately the organisers of Endless Summer did not disclose how much money from the 2013 event was donated to charity. Council requires full transparency from businesses and charities when seeking Council funding."​