Bendigo will put in a bid to host any future regional White Night, despite expectations the festival would put a drain on the city’s coffers greater than its entire major events budget for the year.
The City of Greater Bendigo last year applied to host the most recent regional White Night, but ultimately lost out to Ballarat, where the nocturnal carnival was held last weekend, attracting up to 40,000 visitors to the city centre.
Major events manager Terry Karamaloudis said while the city would be “looking at every way to try and make it happen for Bendigo” the night would come at a cost of “several hundreds of thousands of dollars”.
“One presentation of White Night is far greater than the entire budget for major events, you need to have a serious think about that and say ‘well is this really the best utilisation of funds?’,” he said.
“For example, I personally wouldn’t put White Night before the rest of the entire major events portfolio for the year, that’d be nonsense because every weekend there’d be nothing happening because we did White Night on one night.”
Nevertheless, Mr Karamaloudis said the city would eagerly anticipate any call for expressions of interest from the state government, but questioned whether the economic benefits would outweigh the costs.
“When you start getting into it you might find that ‘oh gee, hang on, it doesn’t really stack up, so should we really be attacking this?’, but we won’t know until we see a new EOI if the state government chooses to extend that trial period into regional markets,” he said.
“For example would you expect the retail sector to open until, one, two, three, four, five o’clock in the morning?
“Would you expect the cafes and bars to stay open?”
Rocks on Rosalind director Finn Vedelsby said the restaurant would be happy to extend its opening hours for a future White Night event in the city.
“We’d give it a crack, for sure,” he said.
“Anything to bring vibe and energy to Bendigo, we’d love to support.”
Visit Victoria and the City of Ballarat both declined to disclose the cost of last weekend’s event, saying the figure was commercial in confidence.
A Visit Victoria spokeswoman said the organisation would review this year’s White Nights before making a decision on the event’s future.