The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Festival is over. Organiser Lindsay Bennett released a statement on Tuesday saying a lack of sponsorship, and in particular state government support, had led to the decision to end the popular event — the state’s sole major runway program and a staple on Brisbane’s cultural calendar since its 2006 inception.
Bennett said costs of last year’s festival exceeded $700,000, and to continue without government backing would mean a significantly scaled down event. “To maintain the integrity as well as evolve the event going forward it needs significant support,” Bennett said in the statement. “Queensland is the only state (except Tasmania) that does not have Government backing and to continue without it would mean a scaled down version that ultimately would not be showcasing Queensland’s creative industry to its maximum potential.”
Bennett points out that the demise leaves Queensland as the only state without a major fashion festival in 2016.
The government hit back at Bennett’s statement in the Fairfax press, saying it was still willing to provide funding, provided MBFF could prove it was working toward becoming self-sustainable.
A spokesman for Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told the Brisbane Times that, "The government stands ready to provide some assistance, but only if we can be satisfied that the organisers have attracted enough sponsorship or other corporate support to fund the vast bulk of the event and to ensure it is sustainable into the future."
In the report, Bennett said any offer of assistance was likely now too late for 2016. "We have cancelled the sponsors, we have cancelled the venues, so at this stage I don't think there is anything we could do," he said.
The demise is a blow for Brisbane’s fashion industry. By MBFF’s own account the festival employed 500 people and was a consumer-driven event designed to promote fashion retail in Queensland.
Broadsheet has contacted Lindsay Bennett for further comment.