Corinbank Festival (ACT) Rises From the Floodwaters – An interview with General Manager Amy Moon

Image Courtesy of Corinbank Festival

Corinbank Festival
Friday 30th November to Sunday 2nd December – Corin Forest, ACT

Interview by Bill Quinn (Overheard Productions)

With some festivals falling over, postponing, or canceling, and with most of them looking at various global or local financial crises with hands on hips and asking quizzically, “Really?!”, with all of that, another one was postponed in March this year, but not for any dollars-driven reasons.

Well, money wasn’t an issue then, but then came the rains and a physical and metaphorical landslide of…..

OK, this is sounding more cryptic than the Times crossword.

Allow me to elaborate. And then eliberalate for balance.

Corinbank Festival near Canberra.

Oh, just read on. Amy Moon (owner of Devil Moon and GM of Corinbank Festival) makes much more cents than eye dew.

Bill Quinn: Amy, a question without notice. The Canberra music industry. Where it’s come from, where it’s been, where is it going? Discuss.

Amy Moon: [Laughs] I don’t really feel I’m qualified to comment on that!

BQ: You can, as yourself!

AM: I didn’t grow up in Canberra. I moved here from country NSW about fourteen years ago, and my introduction to the arts scene here was through musical theatre. So my time in the Canberra musical scene is pretty short-lived.

I’ve only really gotten into the scene through working on Corinbank.

But I’m more involved with [the scene] now than I ever have been. I think the bands that I spend a lot of my time seeing now are incredibly creative and innovative. And incredibly fun.

Rafe Morris does this awesome song about, ‘if it’s not on the radio, it’s not a real song’. And I just love that people are willing to challenge that kind of mentality. People complain a lot about Canberra not having anything exciting to do, but those people don’t embrace the awesome – I wouldn’t even call it ‘underground’ – I would just say the awesome cultural scene that Canberra’s got.

BQ: So if you were, say, looking at hosting a three day festival just outside of Canberra – hypothetically; I’m just spit-balling here. Are you thinking, this is our chance to showball…. Showball? That’s not a word. To showcase Canberra’s bands to those who are going to come in, or is it about finding quality acts to come here to show Canberrans? Or is it a mix of both?

AM: Definitely a mix of both. Corinbank exists to provide a professional platform for local artists to perform on, to give them a new audience, and to provide Canberrans with exposure to some of the amazing talent that exists within this city.

We then also put on a bunch of interstate acts who are really going to round out a high quality performance experience for everybody who comes to the festival.

BQ: So for the uninitiated, give us a potted history of Corinbank, the festival.

AM: Corinbank started back in 2008. It’s a three-day camping, music and arts festival in the Brindabella Mountains just outside Canberra. It’s one of the most pristine, natural environments you could imagine holding a music festival in.

So we ran a festival in 2008, 2009, and 2010. We then took 2011 off to recover and…..

BQ: Babies!

AM: And for the directors – not me! – to have babies. Corinbank’s completely run by volunteers, so we needed a bit of time to recuperate after three or four very hard years.

And one of our goals is environmental sustainability, and the site told us that it needed a rest.

So we let that happen.

This year was supposed to be the great comeback festival after taking a year off, but Mother Nature, that saucy minx, had other ideas!

2nd to 4th March were the scheduled dates, and it came at the end of the ‘Unprecedented Rain Event’ that many people would remember from the start of this year that caused floods all over the eastern part of Australia.

BQ: It was that, wasn’t it? It wasn’t just rain, it was a ‘Rain Event’.

AM: That’s exactly right, and an unprecedented one at that. It was a deluge. It was insane.

We were determined to still put the festival on, and our vollies were up there at the festival site, working in gumboots and rain jackets in the bucketing rain for a week before the festival.

BQ: It wasn’t just a matter of a water-logged site; I saw the photos and it was actually under water, wasn’t it?

AM: That’s exactly right. The site was actually flooded. Corin was flooded. The road was flooded. Some of our access roads from the machinery bay (where some of our gear and equipment is stored) over to the festival site – that was completely flooded.

Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) and Namadgi (National Park) came up on the Thursday morning and said that with the amount of rain we’d had, the mountains were not stable and if there were a landslide on the roads, they wouldn’t have the capacity to clear it away.

Especially with everything else that was happening in the region, they just wouldn’t have the capacity to clear any landslides that might occur immediately. The threat of a landslide on the only access road up to the festival – just too great.

BQ: And the postponement was fully justified. A lot of people were saying, “It’s a nanny state, we should be able to get there, blah blah blah”. And then what happened?

AM: There was a landslide on the Saturday night and then a rock slide on the Monday night.

The landslide covered the whole road. When we went up on Sunday afternoon to start packing everything down, we literally had to shovel some of the mud off the road so we could get past. And then on the Monday night while a bunch of the vollies were still sleeping up at Corin, there was the rock slide. And these weren’t little rocks like you could pick up and move.

They were boulders; they were massive.

And it took TAMS or whoever about a week, because they couldn’t get a truck big enough to go up there. So from what I understand, they had to TNT the rockfall.

BQ: I don’t think we can underestimate this because big bands and acts have got contingency insurance and things like that. But when you’re just a small band throwing your stuff in the back of a van and just touring around — that’s lost income.

AM: That’s exactly right. And financially, for the festival, postponing in March left a pretty huge financial hole. We’d bumped probably 75% of the infrastructure in already before we made the very heart-breaking decision to postpone.

BQ: On that point, the challenge now is to raise a lot of money to account for March losses and to have enough in the kick to go ahead with December, yeah?

AM: Exactly. We’re doing a bunch of fund-raising activities now. The idea now is to give people the kind of Corinbank experience that they’ve grown accustomed to.

So we’re doing a series of ‘Unplugged’ gigs at Honky Tonks in Garema Place in Canberra City.

We’re also holding a trivia night at The Pot Belly, because the Pot Belly are big supporters of what we do. So that’s on Saturday 6 October.

And all the events are available at Corinbank dot com.

And the last thing we’re doing which is really exciting: we’re embracing this whole crowd-funding phenomenon that’s happening throughout international art scenes, and we’re going to run a crowd-sourcing campaign.

There’ll be rewards on offer for everybody, whether you’re coming to the festival or not, whether you’ve already bought your ticket or not. You can receive rewards like a private hot-tub party at the festival for you and five of your mates.

BQ: Damn! I just spent all my money on [Radio 2XX-FM’s Pozible crowd-sourcing fundraiser for] LocalnLive.

AM: Ha! We’ve got things like private, exclusive circus or music acts by a band in your camp-site at the festival. Not coming to the festival? You can receive rewards like a ride with the Rat Patrol, the guys who ride around on the freak bikes – you can win yourself a crazy afternoon with those boys.

And we’ve just added the coolest reward to the Pozible campaign! For $2,000, one lucky couple can score themselves the first ever Corinbank wedding ceremony, complete with a registered wedding celebrant, photographer, decorated wedding venue and a bottle of champagne. And because we’ve thought of everything, we’ll even give their parents four x one-day passes to the festival so they can be there for this momentous occasion!

BQ: Awesome. I nearly got married at the 2007 National Folk Festival. (I got better.)

The thing about these Pozible campaigns is that a lot of fundraisers are wringing their – or our – hands: “We’re out there trying to raise money, and there are so many worthy causes and charities and community groups.” When this crowd-sourcing came along, the first time I recall something similar was when Liz Frencham was pre-selling her You and Me Vol. 1 album, and if you pre-paid, you’d get your name in the credits. And I thought, OK, why not?

Then the Pozible thing really started to get some traction, and I wondered, “Hmmmmm, how is this going to go in a world where we do have charity fade, fund-raising fade, reducing disposable income, and various financial crises. This might not go well.”

Go well? Pozible’s smashed it!

AM: It has! It really has.

I’ve watched the LocalnLive campaign with great interest, and Bec and Sam did a fabulous job with that; they raised $11 500, which exceeded their target and will do great things for the Canberra music scene.

One of the strengths of Corinbank is that it will showcase artists to Canberrans; artists that those Canberrans have never heard of and have never seen before. We guarantee that you will come away with a whole bunch of new favourite bands. I think this year especially, people will be in for a unique experience. Definitely.

The really great thing about Pozible is that it creates a sense of community with people that you wouldn’t normally otherwise get access to.

With the 2XX-FM campaign, for example, there was a guy from Sydney who donated to that whose name I didn’t recognise. So I went into his Pozible profile just to have a look why he might have supported 2XX.

And he looks like he’s a serial Pozible donor. He’s donated to probably 40 different campaigns. And he might chip in the minimum $10 or $15 or whatever, but the buzz he gets out of knowing that he’s a little part of that campaign, that’s the thing that Pozible is all about.

BQ: Amy, just to rap this up, some contact details if people are looking to find out more about Corinbank

AM: or or @corinbank on Twitter or if you want to email us.

BQ: And that will have the details about all those various fundraisers as well?

AM: Yeah, absolutely. Facebook’s the best place to find out about all the individual events, but there will also be details on the web-site.

BQ: One final question: distilling everything we’ve just talked about for the last 14 minutes, with everything that everyone’s doing with music around Australia, do you think that there’s an opportunity for people like us to share information?

AM: Absolutely. I think we’re in a unique time now where open source data and all that sort of stuff is really firing a collegiate attitude. And I think in the arts sphere, that’s really important for success. Not just in terms of information sharing but in terms of collaboration and ‘space’-sharing.

BQ: Amy Moon, thanks for your time.

AM: Thank you!

Corinbank Festival runs from Friday 30th November to 2nd December 2012 at Corin Forest, located 45 minutes by car from Parliament House, Canberra, on an all sealed road.

Amy Moon owns events and communications agency Devil Moon, and is the volunteer General Manager of Corinbank.


  1. September 14, 2012 at 15:34

    […] – Corinbank Festival in Canberra is returning at the end of November after flash-flooding and landslides took out the festival site earlier in the year. Details here […]

  2. October 10, 2012 at 08:24

    […] event forced Corinbank Festival in Canberra to cancel earlier this year (read all about it here in our interview with Corinbank General Manager Amy Moon) the event is back with a new lineup, new dates and a whole bunch of quality music for your […]

  3. December 15, 2012 at 16:53

    […] Interview: Amy Moon (Corinbank Festival) […]

  4. October 14, 2013 at 14:23

    […] (North East for those playing at home) which looks to be the kind of scale of The Gum Ball or Corinbank and equally delightful feel for all the family. They went simple in their online presence – a […]

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