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The Cromwell Community Board has signalled the Cromwell and District Promotions Group needs to find ways to be less reliant on contestable events funding.

The board has approved a $64,270 grant to the Cromwell and Districts Promotions Group for the year ending June 2022, but had not approved the full amount the group wanted.

The group sought three years of funding, comprising $87,143 this financial year and $104,000 and $106,000 for the next two years.

The funds would be used to pay marketing and media contractors, advertising and operating expenses, Christmas Parade traffic management fees and other fees associated with the Cherry Festival, a street party and fireworks event.

Group chairwoman Carolyn Murray acknowledged the group was usually the main recipient of the board’s promotional funding.

The group realised it had to change.

“This year has been very challenging for us and quite a steep learning curve as we explore other funding methods.

“It does take time to make the transition,” she said during a public forum last week.

The group had sent the treasurer on a funding course, reviewed the membership model, worked on branding and strategy and made sure projects aligned with objectives.

But contractors’ costs had increased, events were growing, and more work and hours were required of people.

The group would consider a recommendation its website come under the umbrella of Tourism Central Otago’s website, Ms Murray said.

Central Otago media and marketing manager Ali Mason recommended an adjusted grant for the nine months between October and June.

Amounts for future years should be declined so the Cromwell group could come back to the board.

Cr Nigel McKinlay asked what cost savings and synergies the group could offer.

Ms Mason suggested about $5000 could be saved by merging websites.

Cr Neil Gillespie suggested by reducing funding the group would be forced to look at other alternatives, including piggy-backing off Tourism Central Otago.

Cr Tony Buchanan asked if there should be a targeted rate to promote Cromwell.

Ms Mason said Tourism Central Otago did similar activities through a centralised targeted rate.

Tagging a grant to a particular group would probably be a rating decision and require consultation.

Tourism Central Otago general manager Dylan Rushbrook said the two organisations were closely aligned and wary about not competing.

Both websites competed for the same audience and it was important to work much more closely together and perhaps house the group on TCO’s website, he said.