NEWCASTLE Showground has received $629,600 in funding for improvement work as part of a statewide showground COVID-19 stimulus program worth more than $23 million.
Other showgrounds from the Hunter and surrounding areas have also been funded under the scheme, including Bulahdelah, Cessnock, Dungog, Gloucester, Gunnedah, Maitland, Muswellbrook, Nabiac and Singleton, although Newcastle appears to have received the lion's share of the region's funding, according to itemised lists of projects produced by the Industry Department.
The Newcastle funding was welcomed by the Newcastle Agricultural Horticultural and Industrial Association, with general manager Gabe Robinson saying the money would give the showground's iconic heritage buildings a new lease of life.
Parliamentary secretary for the Hunter, Catherine Cusack, said yesterday that the first stage of funding, finalised last month, allocated $191,700 to Newcastle Showground from a funding pool of $12.5 million for the first of three phases of the program.
Ms Cusack said another $437,900 had been allocated to Newcastle for phase two, which was worth $10.77 million. A third phase to go out in the coming financial year would be worth $12.5 million, taking the total showgrounds COVID-19 program to $35.77 million across the state.
Ms Cusack said Maitland Showground had received $289,534 in the first two rounds: $129,723 last month and $159,811 in yesterday's allocation.
Water, Property and Housing Minister, Melinda Pavey, who oversees the program, said 153 showgrounds would receive stimulus funding this financial year.
"The showground stimulus program is generating economic activity in local economies impacted by COVID-19 while supporting the long term sustainability of showgrounds right across NSW," Ms Pavey said.
"Showgrounds are community hubs and multi-use facilities and these projects will improve safety and enhance community enjoyment by providing upgraded facilities to support a range of uses."
Mr Robinson said COVID was obviously having a dreadful impact everywhere but the money allocated to Newcastle and other showgrounds was providing funding for any number of much-needed improvements as well as work for the various trades and specialties that would be needed to carry out the work.
"We're thrilled with the outcome," Mr Robinson said. "It's a win all round.
"We'll be carrying out general repairs and maintenance works including including new disability access, new volunteers' office kitchens, horse office repairs, replacing the asbestos roofs on the horse stables and air-conditioning for the Country Womens' Association building.
"There are dozens of projects all up and we will be letting contracts for the work as soon as we can."
Mr Robinson said the association was working with Venues NSW and event management company ASM Global.
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