Protesters' bid to drum up support
By MARY MANN
ABOUT 40 local drummers stamped their feet at the Mullumbimby Museum Markets on Saturday but without the usual smiles on their faces.
They were protesting against a recent decision by the organisers of the Mullumbimby Museum Market to ban drumming on market days.
Organisers said the ban had been put in place after numerous noise complaints and antisocial behaviour associated with the drumming.
But local Aneira Elwyn said the ban was a dampener on the usually cultural, energetic feel of the market, part of what made it attractive to visitors.
"The tourists love it. Whenever we have a drumming circle they pull out video cameras and take photos," he said.
"It's a big part of the culture and what makes the markets so special and unique.
"We're not wanting to be hardcore, just to work with the community and take part in what is the culture of the markets."
The protesters on Saturday were advised by organisers that if they began to drum they would be reported to police, who had attended the market.
So instead of beating their drums in protest, they made as much noise as they could with other musical instruments.
Jennifer Garguilo, a drumming teacher on holidays from Florida in the United States, said she had attended the Mullumbimby market just to join in with the drumming, but had arrived only to be disappointed.
"Drumming goes back to the beginning of time," she said.
"I've just come from teaching drums in Dubai, and over there people were saying to me 'you should go to Byron Bay, go to Mullumbimby to recharge your batteries it's a great place to drum with the community'.
"But here I am and there is no drumming.
"I'm absolutely flabbergasted at the ban. It's a real shame because there are so many children here today who would have loved to join in."
Byron Shire councillor John Lazarus was at the market on Saturday and said he wanted to look into having a drumming circle included in market licences.
"If we can't do it here, maybe it could be done at another site," Cr Lazarus said.
Market organisers, the council and the Drum and Dance Collective are negotiating the possibility of revoking the ban.
The collective has offered to maintain sound levels and set in place a process to review any complaints about the drumming, in return for being allowed to drum at the market between 2pm and 5pm.
A meeting of the Drum and Dance Collective will be held at 1pm on Sunday at the Ewingsdale Hall for drummers to discuss the ban and possible alternative options.