Latest News

Back to Latest News back


Festival Of Small Halls taking music to small regional communities

Festival Of Small Halls taking music to small regional communities
November 5, 2019

Carving out a regional touring circuit in spaces normally used for council meetings and craft displays, the Festival of Small Halls is taking folk musicians, both local and international, to a string of regional destinations across Australia.

Commenced six years ago as a touring project produced by Woodfordia Inc, the registered charity that helped create the Woodford Folk Festival, the Festival Of Small Halls covers vast distances in bringing music to small community halls.

The Festival Of Small Halls (FSH) strings the tours together in partnership with a series of folk music festivals around Australia that serve as anchor points at the start and end of each tour.

On average, a single tour clocks up 4,000 kilometres and takes in 20 towns, and there are four such tours per year. As an example, the current FSH Spring Tour 2019 - featuring Scottish duo The Jellyman’s Daughter and Australian song-writing duo Sara Tindley and Ash Bell - which began at the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival, in northern NSW from 25th to 27th October, and threads its way up through Queensland’s high country before finishing at the Queenscliff Music Festival, near Cairns, on 22nd to 24th November.

Then comes the Summer Tour 2019 featuring British singer-songwriter Blair Dunlop (who is also an actor - he played the young Willy Wonka in the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and roots music artists duo Hat Fitz and Cara Robinson. This kicks off in Austinville in the Gold Coast on 20th November hinterland and concludes at Mapleton near Nambour on 15th December.

Some of the stops are tiny hamlets with under 200 residents, like Eureka, Eungella and Haden, while others are substantial towns such as Pialba, Cooroy and Yeppoon with populations exceeding 3,000. Each community has one thing in common, a community hall and local volunteers ready to host a concert.

Usually doors open at 6:30pm, and performances are supplemented by supper with tea and cakes, and may even be a barbecue beforehand if families and childrens are coming – to which local farmers might donate food, in true ‘paddock to plate’ fashion.

Explaining how the Festival of Small Halls works, Music Australia recently spoke to its Producer, Eleanor Rigden.

Rigden came into the role in 2017 after working for just eight months as a lawyer. A chance meeting with Karen McBride, Woodfordia Inc.’s Volunteer Manager, turned out to be a life changing experience for her, which she says provided “an ideal job in which I can look on the world with optimism”.

Explaining the ideal venue, Rigden (pictured above) commented “(that) depends on the size of the destination.

“Some people might look at an audience of 50 as being a ‘failure’ and not worth spending money on.

“But if the town has a population is 70, that puts an entirely different perspective on it – because most of the town is present. However, 200 is ideal for me, or perhaps 150. We have a variety of publicity strategies, but it depends primarily on a grassroots approach.

“A lot happens by word-of-mouth where people get to know there’s a great event happening locally. If we spent $50,000 on an advertising campaign saying we’re the largest regional touring company in Australia, it might not work at all!”

As for the FSH’s impact on local communities, Rigden adds “there are so many stories that I could tell. One of my favourites is about Rowella, a small town on Tasmania’s north coast.

“A couple had moved there from the mainland, expecting things to be idyllic, but they instead found life was isolated and lonely. At the time the council was planning to dispose of the town’s community hall, and when they heard about this they contacted us hoping to stage a concert there.

“The lady, Jen Thompson, put together a committee and did the whole show. It sold out weeks in advance, and then she took the results back to council who reversed its decision. We’ve done tours to beautiful Rowella ever since.

“It was so inspiring and really highlighted my experience of halls – that they can bring people together and be used as a real public asset.”

Related Articles

19th June 2019 - 2019 Regional Events Conference to see industry professionals gather in Dubbo

12th May 2019 - Woodford Festival site benefits from planting of 100,000 trees

3rd April 2019 - Federal Budget delivers for live music but fails creative industries

20th November 2018 - MusicNT to develop Contemporary Live Music Strategy for Territory

17th October 2018 - 2018/19 Woodford Folk Festival set to contribute more than $20 million to the Queensland economy

17th May 2018 - Guidelines released for $2 million Victorian regional events fund

1st June 2017 - Music Victoria releases 10 Point Plan for live music

2nd January 2017 - Woodford Folk Festival draws record crowd as organisers look to event management overhaul

5th August 2016 - Live Music Office creates mapping tool to support artists and industry

20th January 2016 - Festival of Small Halls to revitalise local venues in Tasmania

13th August 2015 - Live Music worth over $15 billion to Australia in 2014

15th August 2014 - Social media toolkit for regional events

14th August 2014 - Report shows events drive regional tourism

16th June 2014 - Queensland regional events boosted by $500,000 funding

Asking a small favour
We hope that you value the news that we publish so while you're here can we ask for your support?

The news we publish at is independent, credible (we hope) and free for you to access, with no pay walls and no annoying pop-up ads.

However, as an independent publisher, can we ask for you to support us by subscribing to the printed Australasian Leisure Management magazine - if you don't already do so.

Published bi-monthly since 1997, the printed Australasian Leisure Management differs from this website in that it publishes longer, in-depth and analytical features covering aquatics, attractions, entertainment, events, fitness, parks, recreation, sport, tourism and venues management.

Subscriptions cost just $90 a year.

Click here to subscribe.


supplier directory

The Complete Guide to Leisure Industry Products & Services.

See the directory see all

Hydrocare Pool Services

Hydrocare Pool Services Pty Ltd offer 30 years of experience in aquatic industry features, products and water treatment. Hydrocare Pools has undertaken water treatment for aquatic centres and…

read more

Aquatics / Attractions / Play / Recreation / Technology


The Pool Enclosure Company

Welcome to The Pool Enclosure Company (TPEC). We provide a large range of premium commercial and residential retractable swimming pool, spa and terrace enclosures throughout Australia, servicing…

read more

Aquatics / Design / Recreation / Venues


TJS Services

TJS Services is a leading national facility services provider. We deliver quality cleaning, maintenance, construction and facility management services to over 1,500 sites Australia wide.  Our…

read more

Hospitality / Retail / Venues


Tim Batt Water Solutions

Tim Batt Water Solutions are at the very forefront of the commercial aquatic business in Australia, with over 30 years specific experience supplying and installing chemical control and dosing…

read more

Aquatics / Environment / Recreation / Technology / Venues


Augmented Creative

Augmented Creative is an open organization of like-minded and highly dedicated, creative people who conceive, plan and execute visual solutions. We pursue new and innovative visual ideas to help…

read more

Arts / Attractions / Consultants / Design / Tourism



At easyemployer we've come up with a software solution that manages one of your most important, and often most costly, business resources - your staff. We are helping 100s of clients to…

read more

Finance / Fitness / Technology


Aflex Inflatables

Aflex Inflatables are the leaders for obstacle courses, pool toys, waterparks and land-based watersides and fitness runs. They are industry leaders offering the widest range of pool, lake and beach…

read more

Aquatics / Play / Waterparks



Gladstone Health & Leisure (Gladstone MRM Pty Ltd Australia) is a leading supplier of leisure management and fitness software and is endorsed by leading health and fitness professionals and…

read more

Access / Billing / Fitness / Technology / Venues


get listed with our suppliers directory

Get your business noticed in our targeted directory. Viewed by 10,000 industry professionals per week!

list your business