Falls Festival full of potential

THE Falls Festival will continue to grow in Tasmania despite a year of low ticket sales, festival co-director Paul Pittico has said.

The festival for the first time in its 20-year history will be played out over three locations: Byron Bay in New South Wales, Marion Bay in Tasmania and Lorne in Victoria.

The festival's Tasmanian leg starts today.

Lorne has consistently sold out since its start in 1993 and Byron Bay has swiftly followed suit this year.

The Marion Bay show has sold out since it started in 2003, although over a progressively longer period of time from the 2005 event when it sold out in three days.

Mr Pittico said festival organisers remained committed to Tasmania.

``It is challenging though - we're going to be down 2000 to 3000 tickets this year because of the advent of the Byron Bay show - but our long-term plan is to grow Byron Bay and Marion Bay to be back to where it was,'' he said.

``One of the main things for us is to refine it and make the show work.

``In the past, we've had a sold-out event and didn't necessarily make ends meet so we've got to work out ways to make it more sustainable and to make it gel with other tourism activities in Tasmania like the Taste festival and MONA.''

Mr Pittico said the addition of a third site had only posed logistical challenges in having bands and equipment traverse three states over five days.

A promoter for the Splendour in the Grass festival, he said he bought into the Falls Festival 18 months ago after being impressed by its ability to balance community arts with international festival headliners.

``What appealed to us was how community-driven the show was - with the arts, food and community spirit - but how it still managed to have international talent and feel like a bigger contemporary music festival,'' he said.

``It feels organic and it feels long-term.''

``[Marion Bay Falls Festival] is in the most beautiful setting and I've been to festivals all over the world.''

Mr Pittico said Falls could eventually spread out to south-east Queensland and even Western Australia.

``I think there is room for a Falls in a few locations because of its community nature, the fact that it is not too big, because the crowd size is sustainable and aspects of the local market can support it long-term,'' he said.

``We're certainly not expansionist but we certainly feel that Falls hasn't reached its full potential yet and there is so much growing interest.''

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