The trust managing both the Southern Lakes Festival of Colour and the Aspiring Conversations festival of ideas has announced a modest surplus in its latest two-year accounting period that will be reinvested in future events.

The Southern Lakes Arts Festival Trust reported a net profit for 2014/15 of $34,834 at its AGM in Wanaka yesterday, up from a virtual break even in 2012/13.

The most recent period, which covered Aspiring Conversations in 2014 and the Festival of Colour last April, included a 13% increase in box office receipts, 4% increase in contributions from patrons and benefactors and a 25% increase in sponsorship and grants which together outweighed a 14.5% increase in operating expenses across both festivals.

Chair, Hetty Van Hale thanked Festival of Colour gold sponsors Aurora Energy and Anderson Lloyd, Aspiring Conversations gold sponsor Milford Asset Management and knowledge sponsor McKinsey, ‘cornerstone funders’ Creative New Zealand, Central Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust and Queenstown Lakes District Council and all other businesses and individuals for their continued support.

She said the 2014/2015 festival cycle, which included the Festival of Colour’s 10th anniversary, had been a busy one building on its reputation for presenting the ‘best little arts festival in New Zealand’.

“The breadth of programming, our experienced team and our beautiful setting ensure we continue to be regarded as one of the best festivals in the country. Overall we are on sound financial ground as we enter the planning stages for the next two festivals,” she said.

“Aspiring Conversations was a tremendous success as a stand-alone event and it will now move to our regular autumn slot. So when the leaves turn golden each year everyone will know it’s festival time!”

Festival Director, Philip Tremewan referred to the 2015 audience survey that revealed this year’s seven-day celebration of art, music, theatre and conversation was judged the best ever.

51% of survey respondents rated their overall satisfaction a maximum ten-out-of-ten with a further 43% giving a rating of 8 or 9 – higher figures than ever before.

“Everyone had their favourite show but everyone also enjoyed surfing the wave of creative energy over the whole week. That is the joy of an arts festival – feeding your heart and soul and mind with so many different performances,” he said.

Mr Tremewan said the financial health of the trust was enabling him to make firm plans for future events. He has already confirmed several keynote speakers for next April’s Aspiring Conversations and was actively securing several international festival acts for the next Festival of Colour in 2017.