Bids to bring major events to the Central West are set to be bolstered by a new, $20 million funding program announced by the NSW government this week, designed to help showcase regional centres on a national and international scale.
Deputy premier John Barilaro launched the Regional Events Acceleration Fund on Tuesday, which will help regional centres secure major sporting, music and cultural events and provide huge financial boosts for existing events too.
Applicants can apply for a minimum of $100,000 to help lure major events to the bush while organisers of existing events can apply for up to $200,000 to provide enhancements like additional seating and infrastructure, extra stages or temporary fencing and car parks.
The funding will deliver major events that will create jobs ... as well as giving people the chance to see their favourite teams or performers in their hometown.Deputy premier John Barilaro
"By helping organisers to host bigger and better events we are giving regional communities greater access to entertainment and the opportunity to attend events they would otherwise have to travel to metropolitan areas to experience," Mr Barilaro said.
The announcement comes as Mudgee prepares to once again host the NRL's pre-season Charity Shield this weekend along with a competition game in April, while Dubbo and Bathurst also host regular season games in the coming months.
And, of course, it also comes after international superstar Elton John's landmark visit to Bathurst and the Cold Chisel-headlined A Day On The Green at Orange's Heifer Station, which prove the region's ability to handle national and international-scale events.
A Day On The Green is also expected to continue at Heifer Station after the second edition, scheduled for November last year, was cancelled. It would, seemingly, be eligible for the government's new grant program.
"The funding will deliver major events that will create jobs, keeping money local, as well as giving people the chance to see their favourite teams or performers in their hometown," Mr Barilaro said.
Although COVID-19 vaccinations have begun, coronavirus protocols will continue to play a role in how, when and where events are hosted. Mr Barilaro said he's confident the progress that's been made will continue though, with crowds filtering back to major events recently.
"We have proven our ability to stage major events that accommodate large crowds in a COVID-safe environment and now is the right time to bring entertainment to the bush and provide much needed stimulus to local economies," he said.
The new program is part of the NSW Government's $2 billion Regional Growth Fund, with applications opening on Tuesday and closing at 5pm on Friday, December 17 or when funding is fully committed.
Event organisers, regional NSW councils, not-for-profit organisations, sporting bodies and Aboriginal Land Councils are eligible to apply.
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