3 December 2018

NCA charges surprise fee for Carols by Candlelight

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Carols by Candlelight has a 74-year history in Canberra. Photo: WVYC.

Organisers of one of Canberra’s oldest and most beloved charity events have been staggered to find that for the first time in memory, they will be asked to pay a fee for holding Carols by Candlelight at Stage 88.

Woden Valley Youth Choir has organised the Carols for the last quarter century, forming part of an event history stretching back almost 75 years. But this year for the first time, the organisation was told by the National Capital Authority that they would have to find a $2000 fee.

Region Media made a request to the NCA this morning for an explanation of how the fee decision was made. WVYC heard this afternoon that the NCA had failed to include a 50 per cent charity discount in their invoice and will be re-issuing the documentation.

The change comes after prolonged negotiations between WVYC and the NCA. The Choir’s organising sub-committee say they had made repeated requests for the NCA’s event coordinator to consider waiving all fees. They had also recently contacted Chief Minister Andrew Barr for assistance, and are pleased with the late change which comes just over a fortnight before the event on December 19.

But a spokesman says that even with the reduction, there will still be a considerable impact on fundraising for the event’s major beneficiary, the Domestic Violence Crisis Service.

“Woden Valley Youth Choir is a not-for-profit organisation and every cent counts. Our goal has always been that Carols by Candlelight would be a free event for the Canberra community. We see it as our gift to the community and community-based charities and generally, everyone involved has the same vision.

“Everybody donates their time and services so that as much as possible can be given to the selected charity and the event has raised over $100,000 for local charities over the last 20 years,” the spokesman said. Depending on the weather, crowds at the event range from 2000 to 10,000.

Region Media understands that the decision was made to change the fee structures late last year and that the WVYC, as a not-for-profit organisation, is receiving the discount rate. The total fee includes venue hire and the use of electricity and water. However, the WVYC’s Carols by Candlelight sub-committee volunteers seek sponsorship for toilets, garbage bins, waste removal, cleaners at the end of the function and more.

The WVYC was also required to submit risk plans, insurance policies, St Johns Ambulance increased personnel, event manuals, production schedules, mapping out of vendors and a crowded places assessment.

Late this afternoon, the NCA responded to a request for comment with a statement. “The NCA and the Woden Valley Youth Choir have entered into an event partnership arrangement going forward to reduce fees for this community event and will continue to do so for Not for Profit community events where there is mutual benefit and alignment with the NCA’s goal of promoting the National Capital.

“The NCA charges fees for the use of infrastructure and prime event venues to offset the cost of maintenance of these sites. The NCA supports the use and activation of National Land by the community. The NCA continues to work collaboratively and in many cases form active partnerships with event organisers for community-based events, to ensure that these events can continue to benefit the Canberra community.”

Is it fair to charge an event fee for a charity fundraiser?

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