Tourism and Events Information for Victoria’s tourism industry

Events program had Melbourne’s suburbs buzzing

Published: 2 February 2024

From Abbotsford to Avonsleigh and Werribee to Wandin, Melbourne’s suburbs were pulsating with events in the second half of 2023. As part of a one-off recovery grant program the Small and Medium Events (SME) Program aided the recovery of Victoria’s event sector post-COVID.

Grants between $5,000 and $50,000 were provided to attract more visitors, boost employment, and support local businesses.

In total, 117 events were delivered between 1 June and 31 December 2023. The events attracted around 350,000 people across 75 suburbs.

The events engaged over 3,100 paid staff and 4,700 volunteers and contracted over 2,300 suppliers.

The diverse line-up of events covered music, community sport, culture and arts.

Among the events were a winter solstice bonfire in Abbotsford, Diwali festivals in several locations, and Oktoberfest in Lilydale.  Malvern was graced with ice-skating, Moonee Ponds hosted a queer festival and Sunshine was home to a Halloween street party.

Grant recipients across the board reported that SME Program funding helped them plan events with confidence. The grants helped them to reach a wider audience and deliver more for their communities.

For many event organisers, after the cancellations and setbacks of recent years, it would not have been possible to stage events without the funding boost.

For Taste Sorrento organiser and President of the Sorrento Chamber of Commerce, Krys Le Marshall, the Victorian Government’s support enabled the Sorrento Chamber of Commerce to deliver an event after a 7-year hiatus. The reimagined event aimed to increase visitors to the village in an off-peak period.

Stage cast mid performance with surprised faces.

Credit: The Sri Lankan Theatre Group

‘Without the support of the SME Program grant we would have absorbed many more paid and volunteer hours working to source either investment or in-kind support to allow us to promote Taste Sorrento,’ Krys said.

‘In the current economic climate, we know this would have been extremely difficult and would have possibly led to a reduced festival content, particularly on the community level.

‘Capitalising on the success of the events held throughout the month-long festival and taking into account all positive feedback from our traders and visitors, we are already in discussion and planning for Taste Sorrento 2024,’ Krys said.

Meanwhile in Hallam, the Sri Lankan Theatre Group used their grant to stage a play by teenage actors titled ‘Paata Paata Charikawa (the Rainbow Adventure)’.

Theatre group secretary Yasho Liyanaarachchi said the funding allowed their small organisation to deliver an affordable family event, to an increased audience size.

‘The SME grant improved the event by ensuring it was more accessible to families. This then gathered a wider audience from other areas in Victoria to take part.

‘The event was the first time many of our young actors performed on stage. This project provided an opportunity for fun and enjoyment.

‘After the traumatic period of the pandemic, a grassroots project like this event helped our creatives to recover and gain confidence that their expertise, knowledge and experience have been retained.

‘Our event paved the way for us to contribute towards the vibrant multicultural identity of Victoria. It validates the notion that multiculturalism in Victoria is the greatest strength that all Victorians hold close to their hearts. It is Victoria’s story,’ Yasho said.

Read more about the Small and Medium Events Program.

Page last updated: 05 Feb 2024
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