Blue Mountains Council has committed a further $30,000 to help community groups stage some of the area’s most popular events.
Winter Magic, the Leura Harvest Festival, Lady Luck Festival and Springwood Foundation Day will all receive grants to help pay the additional costs imposed by tougher police anti-terrorism regulations.
The funds bring those festivals into line with others held in the second half of last year which also received council money to defray additional traffic management costs.
For Saturday’s Winter Magic, the unexpected – but welcome – windfall came a little late to cover this year’s expenses but will undoubtedly be put to good use to fund next year’s 25th anniversary event.
Winter Magic committee president, Roland Mangan, said the committee had already managed to raise the money to pay for the ever-increasing costs of traffic management and security.
“We worked really, really hard to get sponsorship money,” he said. “We broke our backs to get things done …. and we just went hunting and collected $30,000 in sponsorship.”
Lisa Doust, Fair & Festival Coordinator contracted by the Leura Village Association (LVA), said the council’s decision would bring a very welcome injection of funds.
“It went a long way toward covering the extra costs associated with having to use water barriers for the Leura Harvest Festival [in May],” she said.
While the future of the annual Leura Village Fair was not in doubt, Ms Doust said the additional costs were cutting into profits, which are used to help market and beautify the town.
She questioned whether the volunteer groups who run the events should carry the financial burden.
“In my personal opinion, as someone with extensive knowledge of marketing, I believe organisations such as Destination NSW should be helping out with funding, as the events run by the LVA attract overnight visitors and crowds of up to 5000 per day.”
Greens councillor, Brent Hoare, believes state or federal governments should be paying for anti-terrorism measures imposed by local police.
“I think this is an outrageous level of cost-shifting from the state government onto the shoulders of local government. It’s just not our job to be paying for it and be forcing the community groups to be paying for it.”
While councillors voted at their last meeting to approve the one-off payments, Cr Kerry Brown wants council to also consider donating staff time and part of its tourism budget to help.
“We need to ensure we don’t close the door” on the events which generate massive tourism income, she said.