Festivals provide cultural, social and economic benefits

December 1, 2023 BY

THIS time of year is such a special time across Geelong.

Our social calendar scales up, with a huge amount of community and cultural events to enjoy.

On the Bellarine, this month is highlighted by high-quality arts, film, and music.

Council is proud to support two of the area’s big cultural festivals – the Bellarine Arts Trail and the North Bellarine Film Festival.

The financial investment into these events is part of an $20 million allocation to the arts and culture sector in Council’s 2023-24 Budget.

We know a strong arts and culture sector is central to making our long-term goal – of being known as a Clever and Creative region – a reality.

Council wants to develop our cultural industries; provide the facilities that showcase and promote local and visiting artists; and encourage a culture of innovation.

I am proud that the Council has been a major sponsor of the North Bellarine Film Festival – which is held at one of our premier cultural facilities, the Potato Shed – since 2018.

This includes the heavily impacted year of 2020, when we were able to provide some targeted pandemic relief funding.

It’s been a privilege to see the festival develop and strengthen over this time, and for it to hep grow Geelong’s wider reputation as a quality film hub.

The support that Bill Lussier and the rest of the festival team provide to young, up and coming filmmakers is amazing.

This is evidenced by the rising star of the festival, Michael Hollis.

The writer and director scooped the prizes, winning both the Emerging Filmmaker Award and the People’s Choice Award for his brilliant film, The Ghost Hunter.

Hollis had been nominated for the Emerging Filmmaker Award twice previously, having screened earlier works at the North Bellarine Film Festival in 2020 and 2021.

There is no doubt that the festival provides a great outlet for creatives to showcase their work, and to get valuable peer and audience feedback.

The festival followed the success of the Bellarine Arts Trail, which is held over the Melbourne Cup long weekend.

Council provided a $10,000 grant to help the Barwon Heads Arts Council put on this year’s trail, which featured more than 80 artists across 45 venues.

The event is brilliant at sharing the spoils.

By encouraging people to seek out local art – while having them travel through four different townships on the Bellarine – the cultural, social and economic benefits are widespread.

The festive season is also fantastic at bringing the community together.

The Christmas in Geelong program has many highlights, but one of my favourites is the community-led Carols events.

Council provides a total of $80,000 to support several of these events, including Ocean Grove’s Carols in the Park.

It is known as the largest community gathering in Ocean Grove, and it’s fantastic to see people of all ages come together to enjoy it.

Carols in the Park is being held on Sunday 10 December, with the open air concert beginning at 7pm.

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to view the range of Christmas in Geelong activities at geelongaustralia.com.au/Christmas


Cr Trent Sullivan

Bellarine Ward, City of Greater Geelong