MUSIC is driving more people into South Gippsland.
For the last 12 years, the Hills Are Alive Group has generated tourism to the Krowera hinterland with music festivals, resulting in an economic boost.
Now the group is looking to take a step forward to target a new demographic of music lovers.
Operators of the Hills Are Alive Group Rhett and Aidan McLaren met with Bass Coast Shire Council at last Wednesday’s community connection session to discuss ongoing support for new events.
Whilst the McLarens have a number of ideas in the pipeline, they pitched an idea for a single day sunset festival, which could showcase local wine, cheese and produce.
“Hills Are Alive has been going for 12 years now. People who used to come out to it are older and might have children, but still love to come out and see live music. We think there’s lots of potential here,” Aidan said.
The McLarens said they would also like to work with council to boost its 2035 Visitor Economy Strategy.
Their festivals have been generating visitor numbers for years.
According to surveys collated by the group, 27 percent of patrons said they visited South Gippsland for the first time to attend a Hills event, and 71 percent of patrons said they would return to South Gippsland.
In 2017, 500 people travelled interstate for a Hills event.
Per year, an approximate total of $355,000 is spent within a 50 kilometre radius of the festival site – the McLarens’ family farm – over the two main events; the Hills Are Alive Festival and NYE on the Hill.
The McLarens also co-own and operate Unify –a festival held in Tarwin Lower – which has quickly gained momentum; the number of patrons has soared from 3000 to 8000 in the past three years.
Rhett and Aidan had former careers as an engineer and a teacher respectively, but have taken on music management full time in the last six years and have worked with some well respected artists on a global scale.
The Hills festivals have also given them a reason to move back to the area.
During its run, the festivals have attracted respected artists to South Gippsland.
“I guess it (Hills Are Alive) has become known as a tastemaker event. Five artists who have played at the event have number one records and sell out stadiums around the world. It has become one of those special events they play through their careers,” Aidan said.
Aidan said the festivals are backed with incredible community support, with many local groups pitching in to ensure success at the festivals, and around 300 volunteers across both events.
Council congratulated the group for its contribution to the community.
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