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Horizon Sunshine Coast Festival of Arts and Culture

Horizon Festival event installation. Photo: Ben Vos PhotographyWhat

Horizon Sunshine Coast – Festival of Arts and Culture, is a region-wide event that celebrates the creative and artistic vibrancy of the region with a broad program crossing all art disciplines from visual art to film, literature, performance, street art and more.

An initiative of Sunshine Coast Council, the 10-day festival was presented for the first time in 2016, with over 200 separate events and activities presented across 16 locations around the Coast.

Sunshine Coast Council partnered with local artists, and community organisations through an EOI process to foster a strong sense of community ownership and collaboration across the diverse program.

The Festival’s model was developed to enable growth, and as it matures, transformation.  Its regional and flexible outlook provides the ability to progressively move locations, alter scheduling or add events year on year. This approach will also enable communities to gain the capacity to take on these events themselves – already Caloundra has put their hand up to deliver a Chilli festival after seeing the Festival’s opening event, Horizon Ignites.

The inaugural 2016 event attendance figures were conservatively estimated to reach 20,000 – the actuals were closer to 35,500 people.

The Festival has generated economic and cultural benefits, promoted social inclusion and well-being, brought communities together, fostered participation and enabled residents to gain a wealth of experiences that would otherwise not be readily available or accessible.


September 2016


Sunshine Coast

Key stats

  • Over 1000 artists and arts workers involved
  • Over 200 events
  • 16 locations across the region
  • 35,574 festival attendees with approximately 7,000 from outside the region


$52,055 – Regional Arts Development Fund
The Regional Arts Development Fund is a partnership between the Queensland Government and the Sunshine Coast Council to support local arts and culture in regional Queensland. 

$60,000 – Queensland Arts Showcase Program


  • Many of the events were community based and were freely accessible to all, enabling everyone to enjoy and experience the arts and the feeling of being part of that community.
  • The collaboration between artists and event producers in the delivery of events created and supported the development of a Sunshine Coast cultural community.
  • The Festival generated a significant economic benefit to the region with over $5.56 million in local income generated. This is in part due to the 7000 people, who came from outside region and attended the Festival events. These visitors spent on average $408 over the duration of the Festival, and accounted for over 7000 room nights.
  • The Festival programming achieved high levels of inclusive participation, with 40 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders engaged as artists producing works or in direct support roles, 62 people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds engaged as artists producing works or in direct support roles and 51 people with disabilities engaged as artists producing works or in direct support roles.
Dawn Awakening at Sturmers Creek. Photo: Ben Vos Photography

Learnings and reflections

The Festival organisers reflected on the reasons for the success of the inaugural Horizon Festival:

The concept of a region-wide arts and culture festival worked well, with high attendance and acceptance from both audiences and 100% of producer/participants indicating they would be interesting in producing another event at a future Horizon Festival.

The diversity and richness of the program created a highly inclusive and accessible festival, where the community could learn, create, enjoy, participate or reflect.

The wide cultural diversity of the participants involved in managing, producing or creating events resulted in culturally enriching experience for attendees and participants. People could learn Papua New Guinean weaving techniques, be inspired by Aboriginal song and dance, be enlightened by a 10th Century German feminist or attend the launch of an art exhibition.

A major challenge was to coordinate and deliver the Festival program within a tight timeframe (8 months). This short lead time resulted in challenges in getting funding and sponsorship as well as extensive marketing of the Festival and its component events.

Contact for further information


Phone: 07 5420 8838




A printable version (PDF) (1.12 MB) of this case study is also available.