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After a turbulent start, the inaugural Flightpath Festival is in the final stages of preparation, primed with a younger, more diverse, and decidedly more local feel.

The inner west’s newest festival will feature an all-local musical line-up over two stages, as well as art workshops, a petting zoo, community mural, food and sustainability-focused markets.

Organisers are hoping that the event draws a wider audience that its predecessor, the Acoustica Festival, having geared this year’s event more towards families and local youths. Festival organiser Katie Bell believes that the new format better reflects the community’s needs and diversity.

“We’re looking to showcase the local area. All the bands are from the inner west and we’re really trying to deliver a really broad range of styles and genres of music to our local community. It’s from the local, for the local,” she said.

“There’s a little bit of something for everyone.”

With acts that cover styles from jazz, to pop, to indie, rock and metal, Flightpath promises something for all tastes. The day will culminate in performances by Sydney favourites Cuthbert and the Nightwalkers and the Snowdroppers on the Main Terminal stage.

But it was not an easy start for the festival, which met with criticism after the axing of Acoustica. Bell is optimistic, however, that Flighpath’s departure in style will please those who enjoyed the festival in years past, as well as bringing new crowds.

“I think that as soon as a lot of the Acoustica audiences see Cuthbert and the Nightwalkers, they’re going to want to stay,” she said. “This is a really new, vibrant version of what we were already doing. I think it’s the new generation coming through.”

This ‘new generation’ has had significant involvement in the festival’s planning. The Leichardt Youth Council has been responsible for organising and managing the Arrivals Hall stage, choosing the performers and promoting the event through schools and social networks. Community Development Officer Joe Banno believes the move been embraced by the young people involved.

“They’re really excited about it. The Youth Council has been involved in a number or events in the past few years and they really enjoy the opportunity to get involved in music events,” he said.

“There’s been a really good response to it, especially the name. I definitely think this could lead to further events for youth involvement in the area.”

No-one is more excited, perhaps, than young Glebe pop rock band Jade Monkey, who beat out fierce competition from over thirty young bands for a spot on the Arrivals Hall stage. Eighteen-year-old singer and guitarist Nic Barker says that the Festival is a great opportunity for the inner west’s young performers.

“The best part is that it’s all ages, which is getting rarer and rarer. For bands under 18 and still in school, it’s hard to get a gig where your friends can come without parents,” he said. “We’re really, really excited about it. It’s probably going to be the biggest thing we’ve played so far.”

“I tell people that I seriously don’t know where the local band scene would be without the local councils. We probably wouldn’t be playing.”

Flightpath Festival is being held from midday on Sunday, March 28, at the Sydney College of the Arts in Rozelle

by Rees Steel