Regional gay and lesbian festival ChillOut will look for a new president after Doug Pollard called it quits last week.

Pollard stepped down from his position as president and from the management committee, citing distance as the main factor in his decision.

-œEven with the aid of modern technology, it has always been a challenge for me, as a non-resident [of Daylesford] to be as fully engaged in and focused on ChillOut as I would like to have been, Pollard said.

-œI believe the committee needs officers who can give ChillOut a greater level of commitment and involvement than I find myself able to offer as the festival grows.

Festival director Jim Culbertson said the board was sorry to see Pollard go, but is looking forward to a new era for the organisation.

Although reporting an overall successful festival this year, ChillOut heads into a tough financial climate and could face problems in finding enough financial backing for the 2010 event.

-œIt’s going to be very challenging going forward, because as we know from lots of other organisations, there’s a recession on. Revenue’s going to be hard to raise -” it’s going to demand a bigger investment of time from the people involved than it has in previous years, Pollard said.

The current board of management is made up of volunteers and organisers say they are faced with the problem of managing a festival of growing size without paid staff.

Although numbers were slightly down this year, organisers estimate around 25,000 people attended the weekend festival.

Culbertson is currently having discussions with the Hepburn Shire Council about the long-t
erm sustainability of the festival without a paid staff position and is hoping the Council can chip in.

-œThe signs are there that it’s going to be difficult to raise sponsorship and income for any gay event in the coming year. There’s going to have to be an increase in reliance on monies from public sources, he said.

ChillOut’s new president will be elected at the AGM in August.

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