Royal Agricultural Society wants government support for small A and P exhibitions

Wanaka A&P Show is still in March for those who are doubly vaccinated and have a certificate of vaccination. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

As the list of canceled agricultural shows in the South continues to grow, a call has been made for the government to support small events.

The appeal is being made as the Australian government gives an additional $ 25 million to help agricultural shows unable to continue due to the threat of Covid-19.

Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand president Rachel Walker of Mosgiel has said she wants the government to support shows regardless of size.

“It’s a conversation we would love to have.”

She understood that no A&P shows had been shown to audiences in New Zealand this season.

Some shows had taken place, organizing events such as canine and equestrian events, but without spectators.

Those canceled in the South this season include Gore, Lake Hayes, Winton and Wyndham.

Winton A&P chairman Wayne Malcolm last said the committee decided to cut its losses before registrations began to be taken and sponsorship sought for the Jan.15 show.

“We just didn’t know what the situation would be on the public side of all of this,” he said.

The Gore A&P Show committee recently canceled what would have been a landmark event next year.

The 140th show was scheduled to take place on February 5.

Show secretary Becs Paterson said the uncertainty created by the current Covid-19 situation had persuaded the committee that it was better to cancel now than to cut it at the last minute or organize a show with a reduced program.

“It was a difficult decision to make.”

The 140th show was a milestone that needed to be celebrated in style, she said.

“We didn’t want to do a show behind closed doors and involve the audience in something we wanted to make a spectacularly special celebration.

“Better to cancel… and then go ahead in 2023 and do the full show that we really want to do.”

Shows that have or will host non-crowded events include South Otago, Taieri, and West Otago.

The president of the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand, Rachel Walker, wants to talk to the government about expanding its support for agricultural fairs of all sizes.  Photo / Supplied
The president of the Royal Agricultural Society of New Zealand, Rachel Walker, wants to talk to the government about expanding its support for agricultural fairs of all sizes. Photo / Supplied

Wanaka A&P Show is going against the trend, confirming last week that the show would revert on March 11 and 12 to those who are doubly vaccinated and hold a vaccine pass.

Walker said Covid forced show planners to make tough decisions and companies were “doing wrong.”

The cost of canceling or not attending was “significant”.

“Receipts at the front doors are an important part of the sustainability of any show. “

The shows were important community events, connecting urban and rural populations while highlighting rural excellence.

Southern Field Days were canceled about four months after the three-day event in February next year.

Southern Field Days President Warren Ross of Waimumu said the organizing committee made the decision to cancel before Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced the support program for the transition of events.

Under this program, the government would cover 90% of the sunk costs of paid and paid events with an audience of more than 5,000 vaccinated people, if organizers were forced to cancel or postpone due to public health measures in the area. Covid-19.

Ross said the Southern Field Days attracted more than 10,000 people a day, he expected them to qualify for the program.

After the program was announced, the organizing committee decided that canceling was the right decision.

“We’ve made the decision and we’re going to stick to it.”

While the program reduces risk for organizers, it does not provide any protection for exhibitors.

The exhibitors incurred costs of preparing the show.

Almost all of the exhibitors had supported the decision to cancel, he said.

“They appreciated the early warning.”

Another reason to maintain the decision to cancel was that the committee had no idea how they could restrict the crowd to only those vaccinated.

Since volunteers checked tickets at the gates, it would be unfair to ask them to check this, especially when some unvaccinated people “wouldn’t make it easy for them.”

Southern Field Days President Warren Ross takes a call at the event last year.  Photo / Stephen Jaquiery
Southern Field Days President Warren Ross takes a call at the event last year. Photo / Stephen Jaquiery

The government should support small A&P shows affected by Covid-19.

“Absoutely.”

Nash said rural events such as the Wanaka A&P Show and Southern Field Days appeared eligible for the program.

Event organizers must agree to distribute funds accordingly to vendors, who incurred costs that could not be recovered.

The program was designed to support events that had the highest economic and social impacts in the communities.

Professionally organized events with a large turnout played a big role in the scale of the impacts, Nash said,

The high cost of hosting large-scale events meant that organizers were also the most likely to cancel if there was no financial support offered.

Smaller regional events had received support in the aftermath of Covid-19, through the $ 50 million Regional Events Fund.

The fund has been allocated to regional organizations for distribution to events that they have identified as priorities for their districts.

The Development Clutha group had received $ 1.5 million from the fund, Nash said.

Another fund, the Domestic Events Fund, has provided $ 10 million in direct financial support to small-scale events such as the Mackenzie Highland A&P Show, Hawke’s Bay A&P Show, New Zealand Agricultural Show and Fieldays.

Agricultural Shows Australia President Dr Rob Wilson of Perth said the Australian Federal Government has donated $ 59 million to help agricultural show companies recover from the cost of cancellation due to Covid- 19, including a $ 25 million second round in October.

The funding was designed to maintain the creditworthiness of performing arts companies so that they can run shows in the future.

“It kept them alive.”

The financial support has enabled show organizers, stakeholders and communities to plan and implement shows next year and beyond, Wilson said.

Issues of all sizes were eligible to recover the fund’s fixed costs.

The fund did not cover exhibitors, but the latest funding includes $ 4 million to support the people who provided food and organized entertainment.

– Additional reports Sandy Eggleston, Karen Pasco.

Amalia H. Mercado