THE manager brought in to oversee the rejuvenation of the Newcastle show and the under-used showground buildings says the site has the potential to become the Hunter’s version of Fox Studios at the old Sydney showground.
Gabe Robinson, whose CV includes producer and stylist credits on reality TV shows The Voice and X Factor, said he moved to Newcastle two years ago, encouraged by the changes he saw in the city.
“Having worked out of Fox Studios for much of the last 15 years it almost felt like home when I walked in here for the first time,” Mr Robinson said on Thursday.
“We know these buildings need to be used more, and I have a lot of ideas as to how we can make that happen.”
First off, though, is the challenge of overseeing the show itself, which will kick off this year on Friday, March 1, with the official opening to be carried out by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove.
Mr Robinson said this year’s show was being promoted with a “jack-in-the-box” theme.
Toy jack-in-the-boxes – each with two free tickets – were being left “all around the place” for people to pick up, and a giant version of the box with the show mascot inside would appear in a prominent place in the Newcastle CBD on Monday.
Show secretary Daniel Wallace said the show board now had a good relationship with landlord Venues NSW, which was sponsoring the event for three years.
“We’re confident the show can stay where it is,” Mr Wallace said, referring to a 2017 government proposal that it be relocated to west of McDonald Jones Stadium.
He said “a better financial model” had put the show’s finances back in the black.
A spokesperson for Venues NSW confirmed the “good relationship”, saying the organisation was “ excited about the ongoing opportunities to reinvigorate the show”.
The spokesperson said a strategic business case for the overall Broadmeadow precinct was still being worked on.