Interview with Audrey Mates-Bills, Co-founder and President of the Gold Coast Bonjour French Festival
Could you tell us more about the Gold Coast Bonjour French Festival?
The Gold Coast Bonjour French Festival is now in its 5h year. The 2018 edition will take place once again at Kurrawa Park in Broadbeach, the heart of the Gold Coast, on Saturday November 10th & Sunday November 11th. The 2-day event will start with a free French Movie Night on Saturday (3pm to 10pm), and will continue over Sunday (9am to 6pm) with a rich Entertainment program performing Jazz, Blues, Cabaret. Festival highlights will of course include the Market, the Wine Bar with a dedicated French Cellar area and, last but not least, our new Masterclasses 'Wine', 'Cheese' and 'Sit & Paint'!
On the Sunday at 11am, the Festival will attempt to win the Bonjour Beret Record, trying to beat the record of number of people wearing a béret from last year. Bérets will be available for purchase for $10 at the festival's entrance.
Like last year, the Festival is a ticketed event. The entry will be $10 for adults, $5 over 12 years old and free for children under 12 years old. You will be able to buy your early-bird ticket in advance for only $5. Set up at a primary location, Pratten Park on Broadbeach beachfront, the Festival is accessible by car, bikes, tram and foot!
Can you describe your personal background and your role within the Gold Coast Bonjour French Festival team?
I arrived in Australia 17 years ago. After becoming a mother, it became clear that I was missing many things from my culture and that I enjoyed sharing it with people around me. I started my own event management company, Voila Events GC, specialised in the organisation of all events with a French flair. I had been dreaming of creating a popular French festival in my home town for years, when I met Julia Baber, a marketing specialist, who happened to share the same dream. Noumea and the Gold Coast were twin cities so that totally made sense! Together and with the help of the whole community we created a not-for-profit organisation and turned the idea into a reality in November 2014. As the Director, I supervise a team of dozens of volunteers during the festival and plan & coordinate the event year-round with the help of young students from France who are doing their end of study internship with us. I am also on the front line when it comes to engaging with stakeholders and seeking partnerships and sponsorships.
How do you envisage the future of your organisation and how can the French-Australian Chamber help you achieve your objectives?
It seemed natural to seek a partnership with FACCI as more and more French businesses are setting up on the Gold Coast. It is both an opportunity for FACCI to be present on the day and for us to gain in visibility within the Queensland French-Australian business community. Our objective is obviously to grow and to become financially sustainable. We invite your members to express interest, as our venue allows for 45 stalls and there are still some spaces available. We also invite your members to contact us if there are interested in joining us as sponsor in the future. We are very proud to count Gold Coast City Council & the Gold Coast Film Festival as part of our main sponsors but of course would welcome new ones.
Interview conducted by Claire Dupré in August 2018.
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