THE Newcastle Show’s hopes of securing funding from the state government have taken a blow, with Venues NSW ruling out providing income for the association.
On Saturday the Newcastle Herald revealed the show association is cash-strapped and faces being permanently wound up unless the state government agrees to provide emergency funding.
But Venues NSW – the body that manages the Newcastle Showgrounds and Entertainment Centre – says it won’t be coming to the party, a spokeswoman saying in a statement simply that the organisation “does not fund Show Associations”.
At the heart of the organisation’s money woes is a decision by the former state Labor government in 2008 to abolish the former Newcastle Showground and Exhibition Centre Trust in favour of a more central manager – now Venues NSW – which saw the trust lose control of the showgrounds and the associated rent and parking income along with it.
Venues NSW said the Act “allowed free access for the Newcastle Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Association to operate the Newcastle Show on Showground land”.
However the decision also crippled the association – in 2006 the trust listed assets in excess of $3 million. Now, Mr Gleeson says the show association has $10,000 left in the bank.
While the now former parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, has raised the issue with some of his ministerial colleagues, it’s unclear whether any support is likely to be forthcoming.
Also affecting the show association’s bottom line is the loss of the annual show public holiday.
The association gave up the holiday in 2015 after a campaign from the Hunter Business Chamber, in the hope of attracting more sponsorship funding, but has so far struggled.
Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes said she still supported the show holiday, but could only push for it if an application was made by the association.
“I’m very supportive of keeping the entitlements workers have fought hard for, and a public holiday like show day is part of that,” she said.