ALTHOUGH speaking positively of the annual opera event Serenade at Sunset, Bass Coast Shire councillors have denied a request of $30,000 from the event’s committee.
On Wednesday, councillors voted down the motion 6-2. Cr Clare Le Serve and Cr Geoff Ellis were alone in their support for the allocation, and Cr Brett Tessari was in Europe.
The event’s committee spoke at a Community Connection Session earlier this year, arguing the cash was needed for it to continue, after about 250 people turned up at the event in Grantville this year.
The committee receives $6000 annually through a council grant and hinted the money would help in hiring a top international star for the 2018 event.
Cr Bruce Kent said it’s a fantastic event, while acknowledging the committee’s had issues in the past with declining attendance and poor weather.
“I wish them all the success in the future and I’m hoping councillors can work with them to come up with something in a year’s time,” he said, adding that the benefit for performing local musicians was “unmeasurable”.
He questioned if ratepayers would be happy with paying $100 per person to attend the event, based on 300 people attending and a $30,000 grant.
“I would again emphasise I would like to see this event stand on its own feet and be successful,” he said.
Cr Le Serve said it wasn’t just about the takings at the gate, but the cultural and professional experience for rising stars in the shire.
“We are blessed to have such wonderful people that are able to put on this wonderful production in Bass Coast,” she said.
“This group has worked very hard as volunteers to run an event that’s really acclaimed across the shire and Victoria as a leader in the opera theme.
“In struggling times, we should support the continuation of this.”
There had been discussion during the meeting that the perception of Grantville needs to improve, but Cr Geoff Ellis acknowledged “here we are knocking back a high-end opera event”.
“It weighs heavily on me that we need to be fiscally responsible but also encourage and improve our community.
“I understand that if this is knocked back, if the recommendation is voted in, it will mean that Serenade at Sunset won’t happen until 2019.”
But Mayor Cr Pamela Rothfield, after learning the group had received an additional $6000 from Creative Victoria, sought to clarify if the group was then asking for $30,000 or $18,000, as council has already committed $6000 to the event.
It remained at $30,000.
Cr Julian Brown couldn’t see it being sustainable and Cr Michael Whelan said the ask was “too big”.
In a report, council officers were concerned it would likely set a precedent for community groups.
Officers also said the event needs a “very significant level of funding” and all aspects of the event needed to be reviewed to see how it can remain sustainable.