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A Full Stage

Events play an important role in building community. They provide an opportunity for connection, pride in the place where you live, enjoyment and fundraising.

Since the pandemic started the loss of big community events has had a significant impact on communities like ours; both financially and in terms of tourism, but also in other significant ways that are closer to home.

Familiar events that were part of our identity had to stall. Over the years big event management has become increasingly about costs and risk management, but COVID took that to a new level. In 2021 when Clunes Neighbourhood House considered going ahead with Christmas in Clunes it was nerve racking. There hadn’t been opportunities (or $) for fundraising in the lead up. Fortunately our event didn’t have the liabilities many of our other big Clunes events have, but it was an issue. The virus was mutating and rules were hard to predict. Planning to keep people safe was confronting, requiring us to not only understand the importance of safety measures, but to have the confidence to uphold those rules. Working together, we proceeded with caution and went ahead - with great results.

Hepburn Shire Community Event of the Year.

This week Deb Bright, our Co-ordinator at Clunes Neighbourhood House, accepted an Event of the Year award for ‘Feast on Fraser from Hepburn Shire.

“I accepted this award on behalf of our community,” explained Deb. “Several community members and community groups worked together to make this event successful.”

“We would have over filled the stage had we all got up there. It’s a credit to everyone who worked on this one.”

Feast on Fraser was a simple event that wasn’t without it’s covid related problems.

But the event offered us more than just an opportunity to celebrate Christmas.

The Community Benefit of Events It enabled a cross section of community volunteers and community groups to work collaboratively to breakdown the issues associated with proceeding in harder times and highlighted the importance of being able to draw on many helpers to make things happen. Nothing new really, not in Clunes. Groups have always worked together to solve problems but our event was relatively low risk (no huge logistics, outdoors, locally focussed) so it was an ideal occasion to test the waters and get back into the big event swing of things safely. It also enabled us to simplify the event, going to the core of what we wanted to achieve and ensuring it was manageable instead of trying to be all things for everyone.

What the Future Holds

2022 promises to be a bit different, even with Covid more present in our communities. Already we are seeing beloved Clunes events of old planned and signs advertising them going up.

Events going forward may be slightly different or cleverly the same. We may have to prioritise where we put out limited energies as volunteers are hard to find or as people juggle iso impacts on their availability. But our experience showed it is ok to focus on the vital parts of an event (in our case local community, coming together and decorations) and still be as safe as you can. The skills we all honed doing this helped build our confidence in this weird time, as well as our resilience. Not to mention, we got to have a bit of fun!

So congratulations Clunes and be proud to take your place on the stage.

AUTHOR: Lana de Kort.

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