Key events in Melbourne’s annual Midsumma Festival may be cancelled after a huge hike in public liability insurance costs.

An increase in insurance costs for the festival from $15,000 to $80,000 has prompted a Save Midsumma campaign. An emergency meeting was also held by organisers last night as Sydney Star Observer went to print.

President of Midsumma Leigh Johns announced in a statement that the Midsumma board was dismayed by the news of the insurance after being assured that insurance costs would only double and budgeting accordingly.

Since being advised of the extraordinary increase we have met with the festival’s insurance brokers, the underwriters and also the City of Melbourne to try and find possible solutions to the cash shortfall, Johns announced. He added that there has never been an insurance claim in the 15-year history of the organisation.

Obviously, we do not want to reduce or remove any of our popular and successful public events like Street Party or Carnival. However, those drastic actions cannot be ruled out.

An attempt to piggy-back insurance costs with the City Of Melbourne proved unsuccessful, although Johns told the Star this week that a meeting with the City Of Stonning-ton provided some hope.

The City Of Stonnington agreed to obtain a quote on Midsumma’s behalf, which will hopefully reduce the cost of insurance for the Street Party, Johns told the Star. The council indicated, however, that they might not be able to pay for the insurance costs themselves.

Johns told Melbourne Community Voice that the three-week festival was still viable if the community donated money to cover the shortfall. He also noted the poor response in the past to fundraising efforts by the organisation.

Every year we sell stickers for $2 to help cover cost, and the most we have ever raised is $17,000, Johns told the MCV.

The Midsumma festival’s program for 2003 is scheduled to be launched on 10 December, outlining planned cultural and sporting events and parties.

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