Wellington Eisteddfod receives a high number of entries

Photo: File.
Photo: File.

The Wellington Eisteddfod committee have received thousands of entries into this year's event with organisers saying it was a fantastic result despite many families suffering financial hardship due to the drought.

In total 2814 creative youngsters from Wellington, Sydney, Bathurst, Cowra, Gilgandra, Dubbo, Orange, Narromine and Geurie have entered into the competition this year.

Eisteddfod president Bob Collier the 2019 figures are on par with last year's, which was a fantastic result considering the drought has played a financial impact on many families begin able to afford entrance fees.

"In speech and drama it's the best figure we've had in nearly 10 years," he said.

The Wellington Eisteddfod starts on July 26 and will run through to August 16 at the Wellington Civic Centre.

Sections include dance, speech and drama plus vocal and instrumental. There are 2048 individual entries in the dance section, 446 in speech and drama and 320 vocal and and instrumental.

Preparations were going well, albeit a bit slower than previous year's, Mr Collier said, due to some works still needing to be finalised after the fire that tore through the Civic Centre in April.

Other works still being completed was new lighting and sounding, which Mr Collier said will help make a positive difference to the overall Eisteddfod.

The committee have not only had to endure the fire this year, but the increase in venue hire costs put forward by Dubbo Regional Council.

They didn't know whether the Eisteddfod would even go ahead year because of the increased costs, Mr Collier said.

"Originally it was going to be $15,000 in total, which we just couldn't afford as a not-for-profit organisation to be able to cover that," he said.

"We negotiated with Council and come to the figure of $880 a day for the whole Civic Centre which makes it a bit more affordable. It's still very expensive but it's within a range that we can maintain."

If the event runs over 12 hours, the Eisteddfod committee will pay $62 an hour as overtime. They will also have to pay a Sunday rate of $75 an hour.

"We might come out with a hire bill of $21,000 or so. Last year we paid $11,000," Mr Collier said.

While the committee have received grants and funding donations from Rotary to help cover some costs, in future they will plan to apply for even more grants to help cover costs, the Wellington Eisteddfod president said.

DRC Events and Partnerships team leader Lana Willetts said Council has a proud history of supporting the Wellington Eisteddfod, providing $8,000 in sponsorship in 2018.

"Unfortunately, for reasons unknown, organisers of this great event did not seek support from Council during the annual events funding round in September 2018 -- with grants announced in December 2018 -- for this year's events," she said.

"Council continues to make contact with the committee to see how we can be of assistance with this year's event.

"The Wellington Eisteddfod is a great opportunity for school-aged children to showcase their creative best over 22 days, and Council will continue to work with organisers to prepare their submission for September's major funding round ahead of next year's event."

With the closure of many major events, like the Mt Arthur Challenge and Springfest, Mr Collier said the Eisteddfod was one of the few major that remains running in Wellington.

"There's a lot of activities in Wellington that have folded because people running it are generally older, volunteer and just burn out," he said.

Mr Collier said the Eisteddfod brings a lot of economic business to the town with motels fully booked out over the 22 days.

"But it's not just Wellington (that profits) it's also the other towns that come in for it because it offers adjudication on the talent of each person who enters and it gives them the opportunity to learn ...."

Two international singers and former Wellington locals, Hugh Francis and Damien Whitely, started their journey with the help of the Eisteddfod.

Mr Collier said the Eisteddfod wouldn't run without the 100 odd volunteers, and Yvonne Redfern who runs the canteen.

Most events will commence at 8:30am and depending on the number of entrants in a category, could go to 10:30pm.

For more please visit www.wellingtoneisteddfod.org.au