Regional events Tourism | June 23, 2016

Government must change regional event funding in the wake of Walhalla festival cancellation

Member for Eastern Victoria Region Melina Bath has called on the State Government to change application funding guidelines for country events to give groups such as the Walhalla and Mountain Rivers Tourism Association a fair chance of running successful events and attracting tourism to regional areas.

Speaking in parliament this week Ms Bath said many people were devastated upon news the Walhalla Vinter Ljuesfest had been cancelled due to lack of state and local government funding.

“The Walhalla and Mountain Rivers Tourism Association president, Mr Michael Leaney, informs me that each year the board has applied for funding from the state government's country Victoria events program,” Ms Bath told the parliament.

“He says the Andrews government cut funding to this program this year and currently the funding program is based on securing local government funding on a dollar-for-dollar basis.”

She said no other sources of funding, such as sponsorship or in-kind donations were taken into account.

“It is therefore vital that the minister review the current funding model for country events so that funding is no longer linked to local government funding and would take into account sponsorship and in-kind donations,” Ms Bath said.

 “In regional areas volunteerism, as we know with the Country Fire Authority, is huge and needs to have a dollar-for-dollar value placed on these types of activities so that these events can go ahead.”

Ms Bath said it was important that funding was secured in plenty of time to allow adequate planning and promotion of country events.

“We know that millions of dollars are spent in the city by this government and it is very disappointing when rural events are not supported in this way,” Ms Bath said.

She said the lack of funding for rural and regional events had wide-reaching ramifications for country towns’ economies, local employment, tourism and social fabric.

“The State Government must review its country event application restrictions so that we can attract visitors to regional areas such as Gippsland, promote what the region has to offer and support our country towns.”  

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