Maroochy Music & Vis Arts Festival: Six big reasons MMVAF is a winner with punters

Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival has had a golden run since its inception in 2015. But the one-day music and visual arts extravaganza, the brainchild of James Birrell, Bertie Blackman and David Hobson, was many years in the making.

James Birrell gives us the low-down on exactly why the festival is such a winner with punters.

We had been trying to get the event off the ground since 2008.

“The idea started with a camping festival but morphed into the one-day music and vis arts extravaganza it is today,” James told Blank Gold Coast.

Photo: Josh White

Photo: Josh White



“We all share an absolute passion for the visual arts and we really wanted to push the experience side of the event into a unique realm.  We haven’t really reached our ultimate vision yet but I am pretty proud of what we have achieved with only two events under our belt,” James said.

James lays credit on a number of factors for the event’s success. First and foremost, they were punters themselves, they knew what they needed to do to ensure “a comfortable, affordable and clean event.”

Attention to detail factors high too.

“We’ve listened to our punters and we work really hard on making it an awesome day out with friends,” James said. “We have kept our drink prices down, our toilets clean, provided couches in the ampi and have really invested in our stage and lighting production… all of this is to make the punters feel like they are all VIPs.”

And there’s a sense of excitement around the visual arts component that reflects the fact that both music and art are on par at the event. It’s been that way since MMVAF’s inception.

“It really is becoming a talking point for the festival,” James said.

I love noticing people share photos of the artwork and we find that we become the profile photos of many a MMVAF punter, which is great for us to see our exhibits have such a profound impact upon them.

The visual arts component can take up to two years for organisers to curate. Organisers work with artists to conceptualise ephemeral pieces that are unique to MMVAF.


The music lineup’s not much easier. James says they pitch to headline artists from all over the world. This year they had a crack at nearly 150 before ending up with 11 on the main stage.

“You are really at the mercy of rigorous touring and release schedules,” he said, adding that diversity in terms of genre, gender and culture are important too.

“We are really celebrating what is at the coalface of the music and visual arts scene here in Australia,” he said.

And James believes it’s critical that his whole team gets the vision – that it’s something that they all share.

“As a director you really need to see what people’s strengths are and use them in that way, there is nothing worse than putting someone to task on something they are not good at because they will hate doing it and that will reflect in the end product.”

“We have got a great team of people that deliver the festival and everyone is a pro at what they do.”

So if James had to pinpoint the specific things that have led to MMVAF’s success what would they be? He spells them out for us:

Maroochy Music & Vis Arts Festival’s six winning elements


 It’s all about the experience

It is all about the festival experience, we spend a lot of time talking about how people will feel on the day and this goes into every decision that we make as we want everyone to feel like a VIP


Keep it simple

No drink tickets, we cash and paywave at every bar


No timetable clashes

One Stage so that you can find a spot in the ampi with your friends and enjoy the day, which is carefully curated to bring you the very best live music from many different walks of life.


Audio visual excellence

An epic sound and light show, we have always invested in our stage and lighting.


Keep bellies happy

Awesome food, champagne, oysters, burgers, vegan delights…. it is all about choice when it comes to food at MMVAF


Have your finger on the pulse

We have also gotten into the habit of booking artists that seem to explode onto the scene we did this Gang of Youths in 2015, Vera Blue in 2016 and Anna of the North this year… So if you come to MMVAF you will always be the first to see some amazing acts before anyone else!

_ _ _ _

Maroochy Music and Visual Arts Festival is 18+ and takes place Saturday 26 August in the new Maroochydore CBD, Old Horton Park Golf Course, at the beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Alison Wonderland, The Presets, Bernard Fanning, Gang of Youths, Horrorshow, Anna of the North, Northeast Party House, Skegss, Mallrat, Billy Davis and the Good Lords, OKBadlands, Lucas Salton, Beastman, Frank & Mimi, Bonnie Jenkins and Wintercroft are just some of the acts on the bill.

Feature image of Client Liaison by Bruce Haggie.



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