Spotlight on Clarence

Clarence Valley Council has long been recognised in the region for its innovative approach to economic development and supporting both the economy and the community. A prime example of this approach can be seen through their events program.

The Council actively supports their event partners through their annual sponsorship program. In 2013/14 they sponsored 41 events, returning an economic injection of over $6 Million. In the first half of the new financial year they have approved sponsorship of over $65,000 for 24 events taking place from July 2014 – February 2015.

The value of events to the local economy cannot be overestimated, the obvious ones being attendees to an event spending their money locally on accommodation, food and beverages. They also shop locally, hire cars, buy petrol, and regularly stay extra days either side of an event to explore the region. As well as these direct suppliers the support services such as banks, credit unions, accountants, office supplies etc and employing local staff are all elements that are positively impacted by a successful and diverse events program.

Clarence Events The Clarence is a veritable hotpot of events, with more than 100 celebrations held annually. Everything from business conferences to the Australian Goanna Pulling Championships, Bridge to Bridge Ski Race, Dragon Boat Regional Carnival , Yamba Triathlon Festival, the Maclean Highland Gathering, July Racing Carnival, and the truly unique Jacaranda Festival all happen in the Clarence. With such a broad range of events there is an event for everyone, young or old, sporty or arty, creative or commercial.

Approximately 95% of events emerge from people in the community and are organised and managed by community groups and supported by local business, so the diversity of events is a reflection of the rich tapestry within the Clarence Valley. This is a specific strategy of Council to empower local people and build the resilience of both the community and economy. By efficiently using their resources to support events through sponsorship and program development, rather than organising the events with stretched Council resources, they have struck upon a winning combination.

Spotlight for Sept – Nov Events:

  • Yamba Triathlon Festival
  • Grafton Bridge to Bridge Ski Classic
  • Jacob Lollback Memorial Race Day
  • National Goanna Pulling Championships
  • Jacaranda Basketball Carnival
  • Surfing the Coldstream Festival
  • 80th Grafton Jacaranda Festival
  • Jacaranda Woodwork Exhibition
  • Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic
  • Jacaranda Dragon Boat Races
  • Criterium & Gbomb Mountain Biking 12 Hour
  • Surfing Australia National Boardrider Series

Liz Fairweather, Senior Economic Development Officer comments: “We love our events industry, the brave and creative organisers who put themselves out there each year to enable people to celebrate living in the Clarence. We support the development of regional events and festivals, because they attract visitors by the thousands and are an important part of the Clarence way of life.”

Clarence Goanna PullingAs well as investing financially in events directly, CVC also recognises the importance of investing in infrastructure and has completed projects including; Grafton Hockey Fields; Market Square’s new stage, new fencing at Wooli Sports Oval, Lower Clarence Portable Stage, BMX track and Stage 1 of Grafton Waterfront Precinct Plan at Memorial Park which will improve access to the river and increase parking.

There are also plans in the pipeline to invest in more cycle ways, additional wharfs and a project to upgrade the popular riverbank Corcoran Park. Supporting the creativity and passion of the local people is key and local businesses have also invested in infrastructure. A great example of this is the beautiful Saraton Theatre in Grafton. This iconic 1920’s building has been lovingly restored to its former glory and in the process has also upgraded the technology, so audiences can enjoy 1920’s chic with state of the art sound. The Saraton and Yamba Cinema successfully hosted the Travelling Film Festival for first time this year showing a program brimming with quality Australian and International films. Plans are already in place for next year’s program.

The recently adopted ‘Our Community Plan’ has given Council a strategic direction for the next 10 years including the objective to have major events driving economic activity.

On the sporting side of things Clarence Valley Council has been working hard to attract major events and has had some early success. Their aim to bring national, state and regional events has been given a boost by the partnership with Sports Marketing Australia. This puts the Clarence Valley in the bidding zone for regional and state sporting events across all different sports.

In addition to stimulating the local visitor economy this focus ties in with Council’s strategy to seek ‘participation’ sports tourism events, Rather than bidding for large ‘spectator’ events (like preseason NRL games or superstar Cricket matches) the participation strategy is about individual ‘lifestyle’ sports participation, competition for all ages, team travel, and training for professional athletes, clubs and school groups. It’s the bread and butter of sports tourism and intelligently puts less stress on investment in big sporting infrastructure.

clarence jacquaranda queenThe Clarence has already successfully hosted such events and experienced some of the benefits with the Boys U13 Hockey State Championships in Grafton, and the Elite Energy’s Yamba Triathlon Festival. These events have brought a welcome injection in visitor numbers at a traditionally quiet time of year, prior to the busy holiday season.

Building on these successes the future is looking bright with Surfing Australia recently announcing the inclusion of Yamba in its ‘Original Source Australian Boardriders Battle’ national surfing series. This is a great scoop for the Clarence Valley to be part of this popular growing national event. Especially with the recent sanctioning of the program by the Association of Surfing Professionals, which allows the very best Australian WCT athletes to line up against local unknown heroes of beaches, offering remarkable and life-changing moments for many of the participants.

More events being explored include; a junior tennis Australia event; regional golfing events and more high profile surfing events. With such community and Council commitment to working together in building this event driven economy, which is already achieving such great results, the event spotlight is certainly focussed on The Clarence.

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