RELATED: Bendigo to host White Night in 2018
UPDATE, 12.30pm: AS one of three regional Victorian White Night hosts, and the state’s Regional Centre for Culture, Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke expected 2018 to be a ‘tremendous’ year for the city.
“We know what the Easter festival does for us,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“We get numbers similar to what came to Ballarat [for White Night]… so imagine that we’ve got our Easter festival and White Night next year – that’s going to be tremendous.”
She refrained from disclosing the costs involved in staging White Night, but said it would pay off.
“Both on the bottom line, and in terms of our tourism and the bigger picture of what this will bring into Greater Bendigo,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“It is a commercial in-confidence discussion, obviously, but we’ve been very strong about making sure it’s the best use of our ratepayer’s investment and we know that the economic output is significant.”
Her comments came in response to concerns the city’s major events manager, Terry Karamaloudis, raised in March about the potential expense involved.
Areas and precincts to be highlighted during White Night have yet to be decided.
“We’ll get more detail as we go forward,” Cr O’Rourke said.
But she expected Charing Cross, where the White Night announcement took place, to be a focal point in the festivities.
“I know Minister Allan said this morning she’d like to see Ulumbarra [included],” Cr O’Rourke said.
“At the end of the day, we put some proposals through for different aspects of the city, but the artistic director will work through that.”
The mayor said Bendigo would be able to learn from Ballarat’s experiences of hosting the state’s first regional White Night.
“Certainly I have had discussions with Ballarat and they feel it went very well, but they’ve learned a lot from it also,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“Our cities are similar in many ways, but in lots of ways they’re very different.”
She believed the involvement of local artists at each White Night site would make for unique events.
“It will be very exciting to see how it all comes together,” Cr O’Rourke said.
The mayor was uncertain about how White Night would affect the Enlighten festival, described as a ‘mini White Night’, which was reportedly likely to coincide with Cultural Diversity Week in March.
“It will have to be worked through, in terms of the details of that,” Cr O’Rourke said.
“I'm not too sure at this early stage.”
Friday’s announcement was welcomed by many Bendigo Advertiser readers, who made their excitement known via social media.
EARLIER: THE White Knight Messenger visited Bendigo on Friday to herald the announcement of the city’s all-night light festival.
Standing in Rosalind Park, in the piazza where the Forever Marilyn statue once stood, was the towering puppet synonymous with White Night.
“It’s going to be great for our city,” Member for Bendigo East, Jacinta Allan, said as she announced Bendigo as one of two new regional Victorian hosts of the event.
White Night will be staged in Victoria’s three largest regional cities in 2018.
Ballarat hosted the state’s first regional White Night earlier this year, a spectacle which drew more than 40,000 people to the city.
Its success paved the way for the initiative to be expanded to Bendigo and Geelong in 2018, while Ballarat will host its second White Night.
Bendigo mayor Margaret O’Rourke told reporters it was not a competition to see which regional city could host the best White Night.
But Visit Victoria chief executive officer Peter Bingeman did not shy away from the rivalry.
He had ‘no doubt’ Bendigo could beat the popularity of the first regional White Night.
“It’s going to be wonderful to see which of the great regional cities we have, who wins the best White Night award for this year,” he said.
Ms Allan was similarly confident of a high turnout.
“We know we can go better than that in Bendigo,” she said.
Member for Bendigo West, Maree Edwards, highlighted White Night’s importance in ensuring Victoria’s regional centres were ‘on the map’.
“We are very proud of our city,” she said.
Cr O’Rourke said the City of Greater Bendigo had been working with Visit Victoria for some time to bring the event to the city.
“The opportunity to light up Bendigo will be just brilliant,” she said.
She expected the event would highlight not only the city’s built heritage, but the achievements of its people.
“We are really good at doing festivals here,” Cr O’Rourke said.
More to come
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