The Weerama committee is once again locking horns with Wyndham council, this time over funding for the 2018 festival.
Wyndham council city life director Jenny McMahon said the council had given the committee $15,000 under its community grants scheme for next year’s festival with the condition that it would be a one-day event held in Werribee CBD, rather than a two-day event held across the city.
Ms McMahon said the council had also offered extra support to the committee in the form of a workshop with its events team to “explore how a successful festival can be held in a single day and location, and be an exciting experience for the community”.
“Council is keen to support Weerama for this annual event, especially as it celebrates its 40th year in 2018,” she said.
But Weerama president Marcel Mahfoud said that while he was happy with the funding, he was still negotiating with the council about conditions tied to it.
In particular, Mr Mahfoud is keen to see the festival held over two days – March 18 and 19 – instead of March 19 alone.
“We’d like to decide how many days the festival is,” he said.
“We’re currently planning for a two-day festival – that’s what the community has asked for. We’ve proven that we can run a successful event.”
The Weerama committee has been plagued with problems in recent years. The festival was cancelled in 2015 when the council refused grant money to fix committee governance issues, including administration and bookkeeping.
This year, the running of the festival was in limbo until the 11th hour. Festival management and Wyndham council held crisis talks over traffic management and rubbish collection in the week leading up to the event.
The council refused to issue a festival permit until the Weerama committee could supply a traffic management plan and supporting documentation that detailed how it would be carried out and funded.
Festival organisers managed to secure a place of public entertainment permit only two days out from the festival.
Meanwhile, confusion surrounds the future of the Weerama committee.
Ms McMahon has said that the council had been informally approached by the committee “requesting that we consider running the event”.
Mr Mahfoud denied the takeover claims.
“We’ve never had that conversation, and we’ve never requested that informally, or formally,” he said.