New community grants program for Ararat

ARARAT Rural City Council has reviewed its Community Grants Program and will provide $195,000 to community groups in the coming year to assist with events, community support and sponsorship.

The changes to the Community Grants Program involve the introduction of a $95,000 Events Support Program, $90,000 Community Support Grants Program (in three rounds of $30,000 annually) and the $10,000 Sponsorship Program.

Council's community development and client services coordinator Robyn Hemley said the review was undertaken after Council made a decision to support the variety of larger events held in the municipality, with the aim of making them more sustainable, while also supporting community groups through the community grant component of the program and making it easier for community groups to apply for grants.

"We decided to look at events and how council can support these events and make them more sustainable," she said.

"We will be looking at it this year to see how it goes, but hopefully it will make things easier for people (to apply)."

The Events Support Program will see $95,000 allocated annually to a number of events, festivals and programs, with applications to be submitted through the events development officer Belinda Jones.

In 2014/2015 the events to be supported include:

Jailhouse Rock Festival - $10,000: This event is currently seen as the major event in Ararat. It provides economic benefit on an annual basis. The festival attracts visitation from outside the region with an average two night stay annually.

Lake Bolac Eel Festival - $2,500: Discussions are taking place for this event to take place on a biennial basis (once every two years) to reduce the burden on volunteer event managers. This event will require additional support from Council to assist the committee.

Ararat and Willaura Cups - $4,000 ($2,000 each event): This allocation already exists in the budget and is intended to support both Ararat and Willaura Cup racing days. These events appear to be delivering a significant economic benefit to Ararat Rural City.

Willaura Farm to Pub - $2,500: This event complements the Ararat Active City offering. It has a new committee who are interested in increasing participation. This is an event that can be improved to attract overnight visitation.

Carols by Candlelight - $5,000: This will provide fireworks for the event on an annual basis.

New event development - $10,000: Research is underway to identify appropriate new events which will complement Ararat Rural City Council's existing event offering. This will assist in further developing events which will provide positive economic impact.

Markets - $10,000 ($2,000 each): There are existing markets in Pomonal, Moyston, Willaura, Elmhurst and Ararat. This item is intended to continue to support these events to improve their impact and sustainability.

Ararat Active City festival/events - $ 20,000: This is a proposed new festival to be held annually incorporating existing and new cycling, running, and other events promoting increased physical activity which also utilize active infrastructure including

walking paths. Ararat Active City Festival will promote the benefits of an Active Lifestyle, Community, Economy and Environment to people living in and visiting Ararat Rural City.

Ararat Active community initiatives - $ 6,000: This item will be available to community group or committees who would like support and assistance to run their own event which strives to promote physical activity and wellbeing in the Ararat Rural City municipality.

Other events - $10,000 (maximum $500 per event): This area will support existing and new events to continue to provide positive community benefit to people living in the Ararat Rural City municipality.

Insurance for events - $15,000: A number of small community run events are held within the municipality. This financial support is to assist groups to purchase insurance for the event.

For the Community Support Grants Program, the total annual budget is $90,000, with $30,000 to be allocated three times each year.

Assessment will be carried out by a cross council assessment team and recommendations for grant allocations will be made to council at the July, November and March meetings.

Successful applicants will be invited to attend one of three annual cheque presentations ceremonies.

Community Support Grants will be categorised under Council's four pillars: Infrastructure (Environment), Economy, Community and Lifestyle.

Up to $30,000 will be allocated per round as follows:

Infrastructure (Environment): Includes buildings, facilities, equipment and environmentally sustainable infrastructure projects - $20,000 per round ($60,000 per annum).

Economy: Includes activities which have an economic benefit to Ararat Rural City, (excludes tourism/events), for example digital connectivity and growth planning, land and transport - $2,500 per round ($7,500 per annum).

Community: Includes community development, health and wellbeing, sport and recreation, community safety - $5,000 per round ($15,000 per annum).

Lifestyle: Includes heritage/historical projects, arts and culture, regional living and multiculturalism - $2,500 per round ($7,500 per annum).

Applicants for the Community Support Grant will only be required to provide matching 1:1 money in the Infrastructure (Environment) category and an aquittal process will still need to be followed.

The remaining categories will not require matching funds, but recipients will need to provide a full project report and well as financial evidence of their project. The Economy, Community and Lifestyle one-off grants are available up to a maximum of $1,000 maximum.

The annual budget for the Sponsorship Program will be $10,000 and will be available for a maximum of $500.

Community groups must apply in writing to Council addressed to the chief executive officer. A report will be presented to Council and individual decisions based on Council's level of support for the proposed project or fundraising effort will be made.

This program acknowledges that from time to time community groups seek sponsorship support from Council both for in kind activity such as the hiring of the Performing Arts Centre and for cash contributions to fund raising activities. This program enables Council to decide to assist a group as they deem appropriate.

No activity in any of the grant programs will be funded retrospectively and any activity that has commenced or is already completed will not be eligible for financial support.

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