3.6 CHRISTMAS SEASON EVENTS One of the responsibilities of local government is to promote an active and healthy lifestyle within our community and to encourage a stronger “sense of community” among its residents. One way that many local governments have traditionally done this is by supporting Christmas activities including carols and other community-based events. As with all grants, it is entirely reasonable for Ipswich residents and ratepayers to expect that the allocation of funds to community groups is done in an open and transparent manner and is aimed at achieving “value for money” in terms of gaining community outcomes. BEFORE ADMINISTRATION Community groups were accessing funds for Christmas events via a number of different channels, including The Community Grants Program, seeking funds directly from the mayor and from (often several separate) councillors through their discretionary funding pools. In some instances, community groups were double dipping, seeking funding for one aspect of their event (for example, the hire of equipment) from one funding pool, and another aspect of the event (for example, Christmas decorations) from a separate funding allocation. Christmas events were in fact “case studies” of the potential discrepancies highlighted in section 3.5 of this report and the lack of any overall understanding by council of what council resources (funding, in-kind support and staff time) were applied to events. In addition, about $250,000 was spent each year on the Mayor’s Christmas Carols, even though council was financially supporting some 20-plus other carols events around the local government area. While about 5,000 people attended this event, your council felt that a range of other events could attract even higher attendance and participation across the city. WHAT WE DID The Mayor’s Christmas Carols event was cancelled, and replaced with a range of other community events.
Finding Santa , an interactive augmented reality trail of 40 sites across the local government area that was used some 10,000 times over the four weeks up to New Year’s Eve; and New Years Eve party at the North Ipswich Reserve attended by about 2800 people. Council also developed an annual Christmas and Festive Season Grants program. Grants up to $2000 were approved to 19 successful recipients which in turn recognised the role community organisations play in developing and delivering initiatives that encourage participation in community life, foster cohesion, celebrate diversity and contribute to a vibrant, healthy and sustainable city. Events, set to attract up to 3000 people, ranged from large scale community carols in the park and an outdoor cinema event, to events catering for disadvantaged groups. A provision was added to the grant process for multi-year agreements with organisers of events expecting to attract more than 4000 people, offering some security to the future of these community events. Such agreements were signed with Brassall Christmas in the Park and Springfield’s Carols at Robelle Domain. NOW Community members can, under the Christmas and Festive Season Grants program, expect a streamlined process to award funding for community events. Criteria for applications will be consistent, at the same time each year, and transparent. Council staff are expected to follow and process applications in accord with the new policy, thereby providing applicants with clarity and peace of mind. The incoming mayor and councillors can expect to work with a process which fairly promotes a diversity of events during the Christmas period, and a system which allows council to support the longevity of popular events. SUPPORTING LINKS: Ipswichfirst.com.au/council-supporting-range-of- christmas-festivities-across-ipswich/ Ipswich.qld.gov.au/community/grants_ sponsorships/community-grants/christmas-and- festive-season-grants Christmasinipswich.com.au/
Key new community events include:
Christmas Wonderland in Nerima Gardens . The 2018 event was attended by almost 14,500 people, with the 2019 event hoisting twice the lights (50,000) and attracting more than 27,000 people;