Local creatives are hoping for more local and state government funding and support to pursue smaller arts projects and live music outside of festivals.

Director of the Kiama Jazz and Blues festival, Becky Guggissberg is an advocator for more financial and community support for the arts and said that everyone can benefit from more cultural exposure.

“People are attracted to live in Kiama off the back of festivals, they come and think this community is connected and people are supporting one another. But it is an evolving town, and I don’t see that support as much,” Ms Guggisberg said.

“There is a lot of very talented people here who are doing well, but they have to leave their town to do it and it’s very difficult for them to get a gig when they come back.

The Pavilion was funded with an arts grant to be refurbished, but it then become a business arm of council. Weddings, funerals and conferences now get housed there which is fantastic but it has squeezed the arts out.”

This year The Pavillion hosted the Folk By the Sea festival. Other arts spaces that are available for a price include the Old Fire Station art exhibition space, the Kiama Library art space and the Joyce Wheatley Community Centre.

Ms Guggisberg said live music is at a minimum in Kiama with some pubs and restaurants supporting occasional small bands.

Finding Filmores, is a recent live music venue which endured a bumpy road for support after neighbours filied noise complaints to Kiama Council. Finding Filmores hosts the Kiama Jazz and Blues festival.

Despite initial difficulties, the venue has received over 2500 signatures in support of remaining open and Ms Guggisberg said that showed how valued live music is within the community.

“We have been fortunate that over that last three years Finding Filmore’s has built such a reputation that we now have some support from bigger players who are interested in keeping the creative and evening economy alive,” she said.

“The Kiama Jazz and Blues festival really needed a venue as we were having difficulties with our previous venue, they were pulling the plugs on bands and refusing to respect the live music

“Council also invested to design an arts centre that would’ve also been specified for music that was going to be built on the back of the fire station, utilising that space, but that never happened.”

Finding Filmores has since worked through negotiations with council and neighbours to resolve issues regarding the noise complaints.

Lead singer and guitarist from Kiama folk band The Waterunners, John Littrich said that there is some support for live music.

“Council is supportive but unfortunately its hands are tied when it comes to regulations regarding noise,” Mr Littrich said.

“Unfortunately, we have lots festivals and one off events but there not too many venues.

“It would be nice if there were more venues because there are certainly enough musos to service it.”

Kiama has produced many recognised musicians and creatives such as Pacific Avenue, The Vanns and Bronte Alva.

The Folk By the Sea Festival ticket sales were additionally impacted after council decided against permit camping at the Kiama Showground.

Folk By the Sea Coordinator Judy Cork said that sales are down by approximately 20 per cent.

“Patrons who don’t have the finances or want to enjoy the festival chose to camp on site, unfortunately we didn’t have camping and we lost a lot of people,” Ms Cork said.

“I don’t know how we are going to overcome this, accommodation in Kiama is reasonably expensive and people want something close to the festival.”

Local businesses and creatives continue to host arts projects and live music events where they can to keep the arts community alive.


Folk by the Sea is an annual three day folk festival hosted by the Illawarra Folk Club that invites a variety of folk artists and groups from around Australia to perform and celebrate folk music. The festival takes place in Kiama at multiple venues such as The Pavillion, Kiama Rugby Club, the Uniting Church and the Kiama Bowling Club. In addition to intimate performances, the folk festival also had a variety of workshops and dance classes, such as learning to play the ukulele, square dancing or perhaps joining in a chant run by the sea shanty group. All up there were 35 folk music artists performing at this year’s festival. However, ticket sales were down this year, with organisers blaming a Kiama Council decision to ban camping at the showground.