Brisbane Zombie Walk festival lurches to new site after South Bank problems

  1. The Brisbane Zombie Walk will expand into a full day festival at Victoria Park later this month, partly because of financial necessity, after plans to move to South Bank fell through.

    The annual Zombie Walk, which has raised money for the Brain Foundation since 2009, has previously seen thousands of people don fake blood for an organised walk through the Brisbane CBD.

    However, this year’s Walk, on October 21st, will be expanded to a full-day festival at Victoria Park, Spring Hill, featuring music stages, markets and other entertainment.

    Zombie Walk organiser Anthony Radaza has had the festival idea for over four years and says it is an opportunity to bring the Zombie Walk community together and a commercial necessity to prevent the Walk running at a loss, which it had done in previous years.

    “The reason we’re doing it is we love the zombie walk… but we needed to have a proper business approach to it.

    When we say ‘lost a lot of money’, we’re talking around someone’s average wage for a whole year,” he said.

    Mr Radaza says the Walk relies heavily on local business sponsorship and the festival format provided extra reasons for sponsors to support the event.

    “Without sponsors, there is no zombie walk.

    “The last couple of years, the format we were running, the sponsors weren’t really getting much back for their money and no one gives money out for free – not even for charity,” he said.

    “We’ve had stalls there, but as soon as the walk starts, we go somewhere else… they only get about two to three hours to sell their product.

    “So the idea I had is – why don’t we open up a festival, where we can really get the community together, with market stalls and get all our sponsors to sell their wares, promote… and really get themselves out there,” he said.

    Mr Radaza says while festival entry requires a ticket purchase, people often underestimate the cost of previous walks, which only asked participants for a gold coin donation.

    “Public liability alone – we started with 5,000 people and that cost a fair bit.

    “The more people turn up, the more money we’ll end up spending,” he said.

    Mr Radaza says the size of Zombie Walk means the Brisbane City Council no longer considers it a “peaceful process”.

    “Once you’re over, I think 1,000 people… you have to pay for a license permit… and it costs around two grand,” he said.

    He also says entertainment licensing, fencing and other expenses run “into the tens of thousands”.

    “And most people think it’s free, because it’s a charity event, but there’s no such thing as a free event,” he said.

  2. Source: garykemble’s Flickr stream
  3. Source: garykemble’s Flickr stream
  4. No zombies for South Bank

    The move to Victoria Park is another major change for the Zombie Walk.

    Mr Radaza says the Queensland Police Service advised an alternative route was needed after record event numbers at the 2011 Zombie Walk caused severe traffic congestion in the CBD.

    “We expected 5,000 and ended up having 20,000 people.

    “Unfortunately, we didn’t expect that and the police didn’t expect it either and the flow of traffic didn’t go so well,” he said.

    However, plans to hold the Walk and festival at South Bank fell through after logistical issues arose.

    A South Bank Corporation spokesperson said, in a statement, that the event exceeded the Cultural Forecourt capacity, their largest space available for venue hire.

    But Mr Radaza says while the Walk itself was rejected, using South Bank as the festival venue was a “completely different issue” and he feels like South Bank was pushing them out after originally giving the event the “green light”.

    “The thing that really got me riled up was that we paid for our deposit earlier in the year.

    “They only got back to us a couple of months after and they’d decided ‘well, hang on, Zombie Walk… maybe it’s not the kind of charity we’re willing to take on’.

    “They should have read the proposal before they asked for our money,” he said.

    Mr Radaza says South Bank had issues with the zombie theme and did not want the festival’s main act because of “lyrical content” and musical style.

    “I was getting a lot of negative vibes… things like ‘oh, there’s going to be a lot of blood there, and there’s going to be this and that’,” he said.

    “They decided ‘we can’t have your main act’ because they considered it ‘doof doof’ music.

    “But it’s a family event… they’re a very commercial group, young kids love them, so they’re not that bad… and that was sort of the straw that broke the camel’s back for me.”

    He says South Bank also disagreed with plans for a stage playing dubstep (harder edge music).

    “They felt that kind of music would bring out the ‘bad’ sort of crowd in society,” he said.

    The South Bank spokesperson said while problems with the main act were based on noise-level concerns, if the event had been feasible a risk-assessment process would have been undertaken to address issues surrounding the music.

    Mr Radaza says the South Bank problems were a major set-back because they developed after event advertising and tickets had been prepared.

    “As soon as the deposit was paid, I actually went out there and promoted that it was going to be at South Bank… I paid money for the tickets and advertising.

    “When they told us all those conditions, we had to find an alternative place, an alternate route… another park to hold it… so all that time spent promoting and organising it got cut short,” he said.

    “I would prefer if they’d been upfront from the start about it and said ‘we’re not happy to have you in our area… we don’t know much about Zombie Walk, but it’s not what we’re looking for’.”

  5. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream
  6. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream
  7. Zombie Walk moves to Victoria Park

    Mr Radaza says the Brisbane City Council and Queensland Police Service “actually saved Zombie Walk” by allowing them use Victoria Park.

    “I should have been working with them since we started Zombie Walk… they’ve been really good and they’re still helping me now,” he said.

    However, while Mr Radaza says there has been some negativity about Victoria Park’s out of the way location, he does not believe it will significantly affect attendance numbers.

    “It’s not the route which defines the Zombie Walk… it’s having the right, like-minded people.

    “The people that actually know and follow the Zombie Walk, a change in route won’t make a difference… it’s the people … the community we’ve built in the last six years,” he said.

    “If I party with 100 people or 100,000, it doesn’t really matter, because I’m having fun with the people I can share the day with.

    “And we collect money for charity too, which is always a bonus,” he said.

  8. Brisbane’s charitable undead

    The 2011 Zombie Walk raised around $20,000 for the Brain Foundation, an Australian charity funding research into a variety of brain disorders, although Mr Radaza says he would like to double that amount this year.

    Brain Foundation CEO Gerald Edmunds says the Zombie Walk is important not only for raising public awareness of the organisation, but also the importance of brain health and research funding.

    “When you think of all the things that can go wrong [with the brain], both in terms of disorders and diseases, it affects many people.

    “Brain diseases and disorders count for 45 per cent of the death and disability in Australia,” he said.

    “Raising funds for research… leads to earlier and more accurate diagnosis and effective treatment of these diseases.”

    Mr Edmunds says the Foundation often sees a spike in website traffic following events like the Zombie Walk, as it attracts the attention of many tourists and passers-by.

    Mr Edmunds also says the Zombie Walk has become a “signature event” for the Brain Foundation and has a “happy-go-lucky” link with the idea of “keeping your brain healthy”.

    “Many of the other ones that deal with diseases have, say, pink ribbons, but that doesn’t have the same connection as the zombies have with brains,” he said.

    Mr Edmunds says the Zombie Walk is a “wonderful event to have in the community” and is something in which Brisbane leads the world.

    “Everybody has a great spirit about them… it’s a big community event.

    “And for Brisbane, we’re the biggest in the world,” he said.

    “They love to act out the whole part… some like to tease the crowd… move towards the crowd and the crowd all backs away from them.

    “It’s all good fun in a very good cause.”

    Interested in attending the Brisbane Zombie Walk?  The event starts at 10am, Sunday, October 21st, 2012 at Victoria Park, Spring Hill.  Tickets are $20 general admission & $10 concession.  Visit the Zombie Walk site for more information, and keep up-to-date on Facebook and Twitter.

    Need inspiration for a zombie costume?  Take a look at the 2011 Brisbane Zombie Walk photo album

    If you would like more information on brain health or research, or would like to donate, visit the Brain Foundation site

    *All photos in this article are from the 2011 Brisbane Zombie Walk and were available under a Creative Commons license.
  9. Source: garykemble’s Flickr stream
  10. Source: garykemble’s Flickr stream
  11. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream
  12. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream
  13. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream
  14. Source: garykemble’s Flickr stream
  15. Source: cofiem’s Flickr stream

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