MIDLANDIA was named best independent Fringe World venue in 2014, however its success has been relatively short-lived, with the City of Swan and JumpClimb events agreeing to pull the plug on the iconic event.
Midlandia was born under the Fringe Festival banner in 2014 and was a roaring success for three years running.
However in 2017 the event stepped away from the Fringe Festival banner to become an independent event under a giant big-top at Midland’s Cale Street Events precinct.
While the decline of Midlandia has not been officially confirmed, council documents relating to the 2017/18 Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) at Lilac Oval revealed that both the City of Swan and event managers JumpClimb have stepped away from the event.
The 2017/2018 City of Swan budget allocated $135,000 towards Midlandia, however that money will now be used for other events, with $60,000 already diverted towards the WBBL event.
City of Swan Chief Executive Officer Mike Foley said the decision to scrap Midlandia was based on a report from JumpClimb and that stepping away from the Fringe Festival umbrella of events was not to blame, adding that Midlandia ticket sales more than doubled in 2017.
“JumpClimb suggested they would need increased financial support,” he said.
“Underwriting the event was not viable for the City of Swan.
“The City, in consultation with the event organiser JumpClimb, opted to remove Midlandia from the Fringe program to allow the event to gain better exposure.
“By running the event independently, it meant that it would not have to compete with the increasing number of other Fringe venues throughout the Perth metro area.
“As a result, ticket sales for Midlandia more than doubled in 2017, making it even more successful than previous years.
“However, due to difficulty in extending the attendees stay beyond the show, a competitive Perth events market and the need for extra financial support from the City the event was not recommended to go ahead again the next year.”
JumpClimb director Paul Fletcher said the event ran at a loss for JumpClimb.
“That was probably 75 per cent of it [the reason for stepping away],” he said.
“Midlandia as part of Fringe was a moderate success.
“It could never attract the large crowds that we all would have liked due to artist availability, or actual artist want to come to Midland during Fringe when they could stay in the CBD and attract larger audiences.
“A request was made by the City of Swan to program higher profile acts for the event, significantly increasing the artist fee outlay.
“While there was an increase in ticket sales, the volume of ticket sales did not off-set the cost of this cost increase.”
Former Midlandia creative director and Fringe fixture Tomas Ford said moving Midlandia away from Fringe made sense from a distance, but that economic conditions obviously hit the event.
“The audience didn’t follow, which was a bit weird to watch actually, because I thought the program JumpClimb put together last year was pretty strong,” he said.
“The mining money isn’t sloshing around anymore and it’s had an impact.
“It really took a lot of us by surprise at this years’ Fringe how much of an impact it had, so I suspect they got hit by that.
“Hopefully it’s not the end for Fringe out in Midland though, because my memories of it are really great, the council really went above and beyond to support it, and there is definitely an audience out there.”