06/12/2013 - 15:35

Sunset rises in events scene

06/12/2013 - 15:35

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Local promoter Sunset Events’ reputation for delivering quality events has won the Fremantle company its first interstate gig.

Sunset rises in events scene
BROAD RANGE: David Chitty says Sunset Events is working on delivering its range of festivals with a point of difference.

Local promoter Sunset Events’ reputation for delivering quality events has won the Fremantle company its first interstate gig.

During its 17 years in the business, Sunset Events has grown from an organiser of outdoor movie nights in Kings Park to a promoter of some of the biggest music festivals in Western Australia.

It’s also in the midst of securing a long-term lease at J Shed, at Arthur Head in Fremantle’s west end, to open a creative industries hub with a bar and restaurant.

In addition to its own festivals – Southbound, West Coast Blues ‘n’ Roots, and North West Festival in Port Hedland – Sunset has partnered with east coast operators to promote WA versions of Stereosonic, the Laneway Festival, and Groovin’ the Moo.

Its success in running those events has prompted the organisers of Groovin’ the Moo to get Sunset on board to lead its inaugural festival at Oakbank, near Adelaide, in April next year.

Sunset Events founder David Chitty told Business News it was the solid business case behind the regionally-focused Groovin’ the Moo event that made the interstate expansion attractive.

“I wouldn’t say we’re aggressively expanding, it’s just that Groovin’ the Moo is a really solid safe brand that’s sold out every year since we started; we really believe in the model,” Mr Chitty said.

“Because we’d done such a great job with Groovin’ the Moo here in Bunbury they invited us to be part of Adelaide with the whole idea that we take care of Bunbury and Adelaide.”

The partnership is the latest development signalling Sunset Events’ growth; in 2012 the company also added North West Festival in Port Hedland to its line-up.

Mr Chitty said that 2012 festival was the first event where Sunset had acted solely as an event management company, with the Town of Port Hedland and BHP Billiton footing most of the bill.

“It needed to be an event that was funded by the town because the cost of doing things up there is very expensive,” he said.

After a successful first two years, the 2014 North West Festival is being expanded to become a weekend event rather than a one-day festival.

“It means now that they do have an event for the Pilbara region that is a pinnacle, high-profile event,” Mr Chitty said.

But despite the new additions, and local councils knocking on Sunset’s door wanting events held in their regions, Mr Chitty said the company wanted to grow slowly.

“We don’t want to do too much too quickly anymore,” he said.

“We did that when we started and that was a lot of fun, but really now we’re just about making our events stand out as much as we can.

“We had our best year ever last year, and at the moment we’re on track to have an even better year next year.”

For Sunset, business has continued to grow even as other organisers cancel big-name festivals such as Summadayze and Good Vibrations.

“I guess in the last few years the festival market has peaked and reached saturation; a couple of years ago there were too many festivals and since that time a lot of them have peeled away,” Mr Chitty said.

Meanwhile, Mr Chitty is also progressing plans for what he describes as a creative industries hub at Arthur Head with a focus on local artists.

A proposal for the space has been lodged with the City of Fremantle, which is carrying out community consultation, and is expected to go back to council in the New Year.

While there would be a handful of outdoor music events held at the venue, Mr Chitty said that formed only a minor part of the overall vision.

“Really, the idea is an extension of what we do on an all-year round basis in a smaller and more intimate setting and a focus on the creative industries at large,” he said.

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