GM’s Log – July 2017

It’s pretty chilly here in Hobart now, with a dusting of snow on the mountain most days. It reminds us that this is the time for repairs and maintenance and preparation for the coming season. It’s not exactly tropical here in the AWBF office in the Salamanca Arts Centre, but there’s plenty of work to do, preparing grant applications and sponsorship proposals and writing endless reports to ensure that we have the financial resources to produce another great festival in 2019. The Tasmanian Government has made a welcome commitment to support three festivals (2017, 2019 and 2021), but that amounts to just around half what we need to produce the event. The rest comes from corporate sponsorship, exhibitors and organisations like the Australian National Maritime Museum. Each of these contributors must be looked after to ensure that they receive a satisfactory return on investment and continue to support the Australian Wooden Boat Festival into the future. This will be the subject of a short presentation at the next AWBF Member’s Meeting on Monday 7 August 2017.

That meeting will be the final one for our long-serving Treasurer Peter Benson, who has donated 13 years of professional financial guidance and stewardship. Peter has guided the festival through some rough patches over the years and his qualifications as a senior chartered accountant have been invaluable. I know that when I joined the organisation in 2011, it didn’t take long to work out that nothing got past Peter’s eagle eye in the day-to-day accounts or the monthly financial reports. ‘Purser Pete’, as he’s affectionately known, could spot a fuzzy figure in a balance sheet faster that a hungry seagull spots a sardine in the water. I learned that my budget forecasts would be checked and adjusted and checked again to see that we weren’t spending money we didn’t have. I came to have huge respect for Peter’s acumen and head for business. I’m pleased to say that we developed a great partnership and I’m indebted to him for teaching me things about tax law and corporate governance that I never suspected I didn’t know. I will miss Pete’s bombshell visits to the office and the sound advice he’s given me over the last six years. Peter is off to enjoy his love of adventure travel and sailing and he’s earned every minute of his retirement.

We’ll also be taking advantage of our ‘off year’ to accept a warm invitation from our friends at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in September. Chairman Steve Knight and myself will travel to Seattle to attend the festival, with a two-part job to do. First, we’ll be scouting for boats, boat owners and influencers who can help us promote the participation of the United States as our guest nation in 2019. Our two nations have far more in common than that which separates us, and the culture of wooden boats is strong there. Many American enthusiasts have been to the Hobart festival and have returned home singing its praises. Now it’s time for us to go there and spread the word even further. The second part of the job is scouting for new inspiration and ideas. The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival has a great reputation for authenticity and hands-on wooden boat activities. We’re looking for good ideas that we can bring back to the AWBF to enrich that part of our program. We’ll be joined in Port Townsend by AWBF members travelling independently, including Cathy Hawkins, Joy Phillips and Mike Ponsonby. It’s an Aussie invasion, but they did invite us!

– Paul Cullen, General Manager AWBF, Inc.

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