Bluesfest boss warns event could be lost


BLUES Festival boss Peter Noble wants the people of the Northern Rivers to get behind his vision for a local arts-based economy or risk losing the event to South-East Queensland.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Noble made no secret of the fact he had scouted South-East Queensland for a new site for the festival as it outgrows its current home at Red Devils Park at Byron Bay.

"We could instantly move up there and be successful, but that would be a sad day for Byron. If our festival couldn't be accommodated here, what that says about Byron is a tragedy," he said.

While self-interest is a motivating factor in Mr Noble's push to establish a permanent live arts site in Byron Shire, he said the idea was part of a bigger picture.

"Arts are our future. We are recognised as Australia's regional centre for the arts. The only trail left behind arts events is a trail of dollars from low-impact arts tourism," he said.

Consultants are currently preparing reports on the suitability for live arts of a site at Tyagarah, north of Byron Bay.

Mr Noble said by January he hoped to host a public forum where people from the local arts community, music lovers, councillors and residents could discuss the matter.

"It's time to have an open debate that involves the whole community. It's time we had a place for live arts. I'm not trying to do anything bad. I have a vision and it's a good one," Mr Noble said.

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