Cancellation of this year's Royal South Street Eisteddfod will have a multi-million dollar impact on the city's accommodation, hospitality and other sectors.
The board of the Royal South Street Society met on Monday night where all competitions were officially cancelled because of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements.
Ballarat mayor Ben Taylor said the loss of the almost four-month-long eisteddfod was another blow for the city, coming on the back of other events including Ballarat Show being abandoned.
"Royal South Street is worth about $8.5 million to our visitor economy which is a big amount of money we now won't see flowing through businesses," Cr Taylor said.
The event brings about 11,000 visitors a year to Ballarat with many booking in to accommodation, buying meals, exploring the city and visiting local attractions while in town.
"It's a disappointing loss knowing that during the months it's on it does make a difference in the city - the vibe, seeing different costumes and people here competing in this event that's so unique to Australia and to Ballarat," Cr Taylor said.
Sovereign Park Motor Inn manager Tim Canny said October was his hotel's busiest month each year with calisthenics and dance competitors and team filling the rooms.
"I believe South Street is Ballarat's biggest event and the most valuable event that we have ... it's a little bit under-rated I don't think it gets the credit it deserves.
"It makes October our strongest month every single year and with that not happening this year it will have a huge effect on us and the rest of the industry as well. If we have a good October we have a good year; if we don't have a good October we have a bad year."
I believe South Street is Ballarat's biggest event and the most valuable event that we have ... it's a little bit under-rated I don't think it gets the credit it deserves.Tim Canny
The eisteddfod had been due to run from July 19 to October 31 this year but as the impact of COVID-19 became apparent through February and March some events were rescheduled but one by one they have been cancelled over the past six weeks before the board made a final decision on the event's 2020 fate on Monday night.
"There won't be any competition this year," said chairman Peter Zala. "Things like choirs, bands and orchestras, dance troupes, calisthenics troupes, it's impossible to maintain social distancing ... and they just haven't been rehearsing, they're not competition ready," he said.
"Even debating, speech and drama you've got competitors sitting side by side, swapping notes."
Mr Zala said the event's cancellation would have a massive financial impact on the city and on the organisation itself.
"Teams like calisthenics often stay a few extra days and have a look around, go to the wildlife park and other attractions ... it's quite the fillip for the city," he said.
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"Financially for us it's a bit tough as we've still got a couple of staff and rentals to pay on our office and storage. It's not an easy year but we are getting terrific support from council ... and sponsors who have stuck with us
But in one bright spot for solo competitors, Royal South Street will offer the opportunity for soloists in various categories the option to submit a video of their work which will be uploaded on to their website and receive a critique from adjudicators.
"It's not a competition, there's no prizes or trophies but we will get an adjudicator to give them critique and feedback," Mr Zala said.
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