The Falls Festival's Tassie Leg 'Saved' By Philanthropist

30 May 2012 | 12:24 pm | Scott Fitzsimons

Renowned philanthropist Graeme Wood AM has become a major sponsor.

Renowned philanthropist Graeme Wood AM has become a major sponsor of The Falls Music & Arts Festival, the event announced today. Held over the New Years period, Falls takes place in both Marion Bay, Tasmania, and Lorne, Victoria, and has counts itself as a large contributor to the arts community of the areas, particularly Tasmania as it is one of the leading festivals - music or otherwise - on the island state's calendar.

Announcing his contribution today Wood - who made his fortune through the travel website - said that the festival "is a case study of the tangible economic impact that creative events, and cultural and ecotourism, can have for the Tasmanian economy. As a philanthropist and businessman, this inspirational combination of creative endeavour and sustainable economic return is something I'm very keen to support."

The news comes after doubts were raised over the future of the Tasmanian leg earlier this year, with promoters asking for a bigger slice of the Tasmanian government's funding pie.

Organiser Simon Daly told then, “It is the most rural festival in the country and it's very costly to put on. Tasmania as an economy is really struggling, and our premise is to keep it affordable.”

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He added, “If our request meant the loss of a hospital bed or teaching job, then we'll withdraw it. What we want to do is sit down with the Government and see what's possible with how their current event spend is allocated.”

Last year's event was headlined by Fleet Foxes, Arctic Monkeys and Missy Higgins.

With today's announcement Daly said, "Major events have huge budgets which is why they're more commonly staged in larger markets. Tasmania is incredibly fortunate to have people like Graeme who understand the importance of supporting arts and cultural projects that are important to our community."

The 2012 events will see the tenth anniversary of the Tasmanian leg and the 20th of the Victorian.

Daly added, "I've seen the difference the festivals have made to their communities, not just in economic terms, but just as importantly, the social and cultural impact, particularly in Tasmania. We created the festival in Marion Bay for Tasmanians, all Tasmanians.

"We've consciously made it the best value and most accessible festival in Australia and it's rewarding to see such a broad mix of people, of all ages, connecting and having a great time together."

The festival claims that 40 to 50 percent of attendees are from interstate, with 7,742 interstate punters making the trip last year and staying at average of 9.23 nights. The festival argues that it contributed $31.45 million in economic benefit to the state last year, including these visitors.

Graeme Wood, whose personal wealth is believed to be in the hundreds of millions, is no stranger to philanthropic contribution to the arts, he founded Artology, a non-profit that looks to foster creativity in young people. He also provided funding for news site The Global Mailand gave the Greens $1.6 million for political TV ads, which is believed to be the largest political donation in Australia history.