Easter tradition forced to cancel

ARTWORK won't be seen hanging in Kerang at Easter, with organisers of the annual art show pulling the pin.

The Kerang Rotary Club made the decision last week following recommendations from the organisation's international president and strict measures put in place by governments to flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections.

Event organiser Jenny Kelly, although disappointed the event won't proceed, feels it was the responsible decision to make for the community at large and for fellow Rotarians.

"If we can help to stop the spreading of this virus, well, it's not necessary to hold (the show) although it's valuable to our Rotary Club and to the artists," Ms Kelly said.

She noted the higher vulnerability of Rotarians to COVID-19 given many members of the organisation are not young.

"I'd hate to have it on my head or anyone else in the Rotary Club's head that we held an event and someone got sick, or worse than that passed away," Ms Kelly said.

She said a lot of work has gone into organising the Art Show, but she is already looking ahead.

"We'll now throw our energies into the next one and I'm sure we'll come up with some ideas of helping the community, perhaps the elderly or the disadvantaged in the community who might need some assistance over the next few months," she said.

Ms Kelly said although expenses have already been incurred in organising the Art Show the money lost by Kerang Rotary is only part of what is foregone.

"It is a loss of income for us, but (of) nearly as much value is the actual event (and) we pride ourselves on putting on a high standard show."

She believes the joy the event normally brings is beneficial to people's health, but this year's unique threat has turned that scenario on its head.

"Unfortunately, at this time it's just not going to happen because people's health and wellbeing's going to be better off without us holding the Art Show and without having gatherings of people as much as we can."

Although the Federal Government has specifically ordered the cancellation of events attracting 500 or more people, Ms Kelly said the number the Art Show would have attracted wasn't really a consideration.

"To me, this number of 500 is just a number and it only takes two people, one to be a carrier to pass it to one other," she said.

Since the decision was made to cancel the Art Show, further restrictions have been introduced by the Victorian government prohibiting all non-essential activities.

Prior to that development, artists expressed disappointment at the show's cancellation but were entirely understanding of the decision and declared they will support the event next Easter.

A couple of the Art Show's sponsors have advised Kerang Rotary Club they are happy for it to hold onto the funds they have provided, for next year's event, while one suggested organisers put its funds towards expenses already incurred in preparation for this year's show.

Ms Kelly expressed her appreciation for the sponsors' generosity, but said no decision has yet been made on whether to hold onto funds.

She said there is plenty of work to do following the Art Show's cancellation, with the need to notify a wide range of people.

"Yesterday (March 16), the day was spent organising emails and letters to go back to artists, sponsors, our judge, the Mayor, the CEO, our district governor, all the Rotarians to inform everyone what was happening," Ms Kelly said.

She said she would ring all the art collection depots around Victoria which were to send artists' work to Kerang to make sure they are aware not to accept any art.

The bulk of entries is usually received in the last couple of weeks prior to the show.

All is not lost from a financial point of view, with one source of income remaining available to Art Show organisers to assist with Kerang Rotary's work within the community.

The art show raffle will continue, with the draw to be shown live on Facebook at 3pm on Easter Sunday, with tickets still available for purchase from Rotary sellers.