Everyone needs help sometimes ... even the organisers of an event with the reputation and appeal of the Deniliquin Ute Muster.
Even the draw of country music superstar Keith Urban could not protect the famed event from posting an operational loss in 2016.
And as Deniliquin Play on the Plains Festival Limited chairman Russell Tait points out, to continue to put on an event of the muster’s calibre takes a lot of effort and money.
Its survival is dependent on ongoing support, and Mr Tait says that may have to include annual financial commitments from local and state governments.
The NSW Government last year saw fit to invest $50,000 in the event, but that was on the back of $500,000 and $772,000 operational losses in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Imagine the new heights the muster could climb to if funding was made proactively instead of reactively.
And with the landmark event estimated to generate an average $9 million for the western Riverina economy alone each year — as reported by NSW Member for Murray Adrian Piccoli last year when announcing the funding — it could be considered a secure investment for the state.
But the event also needs support at a local level, in the form of ticket sales.
When the muster’s shocking $500,000 operational loss from the 2014 event was released, then muster chairman Harold Clapham partly blamed local complacency.
He is right. The local community cannot rely on visitors to support an event it will not support itself.
Muster organisers are adamant the event will never be abandoned, but with continued operational loss predictions the idea of it being delivered in a different format may be realised sooner than we think.
We owe it to the small few who put in so much effort to bring us the amazing Ute Muster to put our money where our mouth is.
And afterall, it is the event which made an extremely valuable economic contribution during the decade long drought.
We also call on the NSW Government to get more serious about its Muster support. A good place to start would be waiving the ridiculously high charges for police presence — many other communities don’t have to pay them, so why should we?
It’s budget time Mr Piccoli, and we’ll be looking for you to advocate strongly on behalf of this event of vast regional importance for another cash injection.