How to cultivate a music festival: from seed to full bloom

Mt Eliza Music Festival: the evolution

Over 60 hand-picked vocalists, bands, DJs and buskers alongside budding child entrepreneurs will flood into Mount Eliza village on Saturday 4 February 2017 to elevate our village atmosphere to extraordinary.  You don’t want to miss your very own music festival. Here’s why.

The making of this unique music festival is an inspiring story that started with throwing a single seed out to a community and collectively encouraging it to bloom. We spoke to Founder, Tim Meyer and Mt Eliza Chamber of Commerce Marketing and Development Manager, Alison Doherty about the magic that was woven in the village this year and what’s in store for early 2017.

Setting: a summer afternoon in Mount Eliza village

On Saturday 6 February 2016, the first ever Mt Eliza Music Festival welcomingly seeped into our village like warm honey – a lot of work and busyness brought it all into being.  The treat delivered was sweet, wholesome and pure.

This inaugural Mount Eliza music event satiated a shared appetite for something festive, melodic and cultural. It brought opportunity for a distinctive celebratory gathering made for the village, reflecting and feeding the creativity that flourishes in Mount Eliza’s community midst.

Great music festivals have a reputation for showcasing newly discovered talent that go on to make music history. Staggeringly talented Tash Sultana was just on the verge of exploding onto the iTunes charts when she was featured as a headline guest in this year’s Mt Eliza Music Festival line up. A great music festival truly began in Mount Eliza this year.

Music poured out and meandered its way right throughout the village with performers busking on the streets and outside venues; or playing more intimate gigs indoors in local food and drink venues; or immersing larger gatherings with tunes from the main stage.

Deeply entrenched in organising the festival, it wasn’t until it was all over that Tim had an opportunity to reflect on the day.

WOW! What an absolute cracker of a day we had. The atmosphere was electric and the way the village represented itself was a true reflection of what our community has to offer.
— from Tim’s post event WTF Mt Eliza! status update

There was something special in it for everyone involved, from the artists, performers and crews, to the local sponsors and businesses, to the community that supported and soaked up this special event. When it was all done, the Festival left a tingling aftertaste that left everyone wanting more.

Bring on 4 February!

Planting the seed

The vision of a courageous entrepreneur with music and marketing in his veins Tim Meyer is hugely grateful for the support and trust invested by Mount Eliza, to make the Festival a success. The gratitude is reciprocal!

An active contributor on Facebook group WTF Mt Eliza!, on June 13 2015 – just seven months out from kicking off a successful event - Tim gathered Mount Eliza locals around his idea for a music festival in Mount Eliza. The response was huge, and has continued.

How to transform a seed into a full blown harvest in just seven months

It was the WTF Mt Eliza! community that brought lots of rich organic matter to the seed planted.

After considering a welcome influx of suggestions on the best format for the festival, Tim pitched the idea of bringing the festival into the heart of the village with local venues hosting performers.

Mt Eliza Chamber of Commerce’s Alison Doherty had joined the conversation and wholeheartedly supported this approach. Bringing vitality into the village through community events that beckon people through the doors of retailers and traders complements the Chamber of Commerce’s vision.

The expectations at this stage were humble.

“We didn’t have high expectations for the first Festival. We just wanted to create a sustainable music event for Mount Eliza.”

Tim, Alison and the Chamber of Commerce team, local businesses and retailers, local council, schools, community organisations and local volunteers formed a rich collaboration to bring the concept to life.

“Tim and I worked synonymously – he had all the connections and expertise in the music and performing arts industry, social media, and sound, lighting and staging technicians. We had the connections to get the right permits and administrative tasks to make it happen,” Alison said.

Bringing lots of experience in running community events and seeking funding via grants, Alison’s well articulated proposal and submission to council for a $4,500 community support grant was approved.

To apply for grants as the Chamber of Commerce, a community initiative has to bring a financial benefit to local traders. The vision of the Chamber is to bring people into the village to shop, eat, socialise and do business.

We have a vision to maintain Mount Eliza as an attractive shopping destination; and a vibrant destination with activities and promotions and events that offer something for everyone. Our aim is to bring a sense of community, to welcome in everyone from infants to the elderly.
— Alison Doherty, Commerce Marketing and Development, Mt Eliza Chamber of Commerce.

Bringing an effervescent event right into the village with an overarching genre of music and performers that offer broad appeal is a great way to achieve exactly that.

The Chamber of Commerce and the Mt Eliza Music Festival agreed on some principles that would ensure that there was a good spread of business benefit through the village.

Agreeing not to bring in external caterers meant that financial benefits were directed to village traders for feeding and watering festival goers. Involving cafes and restaurants as venues for performers also meant that festival goers would rotate and move their trade around businesses in the village.  

Tim recalled a venue sharing with him that they did the best trade in history on 6 February.

Community involvement was truly heartening - from tireless individual volunteers to local schools and community organisations. Involving the community really helped build an enticing sense of place for a range of ages.

Real Time learning students at Mount Eliza Secondary College took on a hands-on role in the festival including helping with set design and promotional material for headline guest band, Woodlock.

Mount Eliza venue, Canadian Bay Hotel is one example of a local business that has continued to host after festival performances from some of this year’s line up of talent – paving the way for a perpetual Mt Eliza Music Festival of sorts.

Set the day aside for Mt Eliza Music Festival 2017, now.

As the festival moves swiftly into its second year, it is developing a unique tone and style that will define this unique event. It is also evolving into a national music festival attracting talent from all over Australia.

Josh Cashman // Reuben Stone : Headliners for 2017 along with loads of other talent.

Josh Cashman // Reuben Stone: Headliners for 2017 along with loads of other talent.

“I’m really excited about the theme that is developing. We’ve already had more than 250 applications from musicians and loads of emerging artists. There is so much talent on offer and each artist offers something unique,” Tim said.

You’ll find details of the exciting – and growing - line up of performers, venues and local business sponsors and supporters on the Mt Eliza Music Festival website and social media pages.

Budding child entrepreneur in the household?  Help them fill in an application and they could be a headliner children's market stall holder on 4 February 2017.

Budding child entrepreneur in the household? Help them fill in an application and they could be a headliner children's market stall holder on 4 February 2017.

A music festival and celebratory community gathering for the whole family, an area will be set aside near the Morley’s Stage in the Rotary Park for a market run by children! Children can run their own art and craft stand and either keep the profits or nominate a charity to donate profits too.  A bunch of other children’s activities will be on offer, including an awesome line up of musicians and performers.

If your child, child’s class or group of kids are budding entrepreneurs, they can download an application form for their market stall, here – Mt Eliza Music Festival 2017 Market Stall Application.

2017 will also see more outdoor stages thanks to the strong sponsorship the Festival is being supported by. Positioning the stages around the village will create strong visual points to gather around.

Tim has spent his career to date working in creative urban circles. On moving to Mount Eliza from Brighton, Tim quickly discovered that Mount Eliza was a truly inspired hub of single people, couples, young families and grown up families.

Mount Eliza is the perfect storm for an event to rejoice in celebrating community by gathering together around live music in an amazing village setting.

To find out more, please go straight to the source:

Mt Eliza Music Festival 2017 > Artist Line Up

Mt Eliza Music Festival 2017 > Sponsors & Partners



Article funded by Vicki Sayers, Live Love Mount Eliza | Written by Julie Pearce, Content Services Melbourne